Black/Queer Ontologies @ Princeton U. Abstracts Due 8/31

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Black Queer Sexuality Studies Collective / Princeton University
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Princeton University's Black Queer Sexuality Studies Collective is proud to announce its 4th Annual Graduate Student Conference…

Black/Queer Ontologies
Princeton University
October 24, 2015
Keynote Speaker: Professor Saidiya V. Hartman

Critical discussions about the ontology of blackness are reshaping the field of Black Studies. Varied debates interrogate the implications blackness has for the category of the human. They ask: How does blackness inflect, inform, and inaugurate hierarchicalized modes of being? Such a question pushes us to not only reflect on the category of the human and its usefulness for black critical inquiry, but also, betrays the fragility at the heart of the "humanist" project, especially when it uncritically takes up the human as its object of study. What these critical departures offer, then, is an understanding of how race, but especially and particularly blackness, distorts the field of the socio-political category of the human.
The most prominent and visible of these debates has emerged between scholars broadly termed, "Afro-pessimists" and those begrudgingly labeled "Afro-optimists." While so-named proponents often shirk their respective camps, the difference represented by these heuristic groupings generally hinges on the degree to which the character of the link between blackness and the human determines black people, black culture, black being and black life.
This conference seeks papers that take up these recent interventions in black studies within the domain of queer scholarship. We invite papers from disciplines as varied as English, History, Comparative Literature, Anthropology, Politics, Sociology, Black Studies, Queer Studies and others. Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:

• How do theories of queerness inflect conversations/debates about blackness?
• How can ontological discussions of black life account for its historically particular manifestation and organization?
• How is the relationship between blackness and the human articulated through particular regimes of domination (intellectual, economic, social, or cultural)?
• Is slavery ground-zero for thinking about categories of the human and their inflection through blackness?
• What is the orientation of blackness?
• What significance does sexuality have for those subject/object to "social death"?

Professor Saidiya V. Hartman is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-making in Nineteenth Century America (Oxford University Press, 1997) and Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007).
Please submit your abstracts (350 words) and CV to by August 31, 2015. All other inquiries should be directed to Brittney Edmonds ( or to Ezelle Sanford (