Rupture and Relation: A Workshop on Black Critical Thought

deadline for submissions: 
February 22, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Northwestern University


RUPTURE AND RELATION: A WORKSHOP ON BLACK CRITICAL THOUGHTsponsored by the Buffett Institute for Global StudiesMay 23-25, 2019Northwestern University


Confirmed Speakers:

Dr. Matthieu Chapman (University of Houston)

Dr. Zine Magubane (Boston College)

Dr. John Murillo III (University of California, Irvine)

Dr. Denise Ferreira da Silva (University of British Columbia)

Dr. Selamawit Terrefe (Tulane University)

Dr. Frank B. Wilderson III (University of California, Irvine)



F. Delali Kumavie (English, Northwestern University)

Tyrone S. Palmer (African American Studies, Northwestern University)

Mlondi Zondi (Performance Studies, Northwestern University)

"It was a rupture in history, a rupture in the quality of being. It was also a physical rupture, a rupture of geography.”

— Dionne Brand


The paradigmatic rupture of racial slavery and its continued reverberations across Africa and the African diaspora raise a set of pressing questions surrounding Global Blackness and the problem of relation. These questions have instantiated a renewed celebratory fervor surrounding the possibilities of a politics of relation, as well as a robust interrogation of its limitations, conditions of emergence, and presumed universality. This workshop aims to critically examine the compulsory turn to transcendental relation as a mode of disciplining and organizing Black critical thought. Taking seriously the interventions of Afro-Pessimism, Radical Black Feminisms, and related modes of inquiry, we invite papers that respond to the workshop’s theme by attending to/complicating the matter of the “global” and (anti-)Blackness. We seek abstracts from advanced graduate students that tend to the distinctions/discontinuities between the global from the planetary, the earthly, and the worldly, and the role of (anti-)Blackness in the articulation of these scales.


Questions we hope to address throughout the course of the workshop are:

  • How do we account for the chasm between Black Studies and “Area Studies” (i.e. African Studies, Caribbean Studies, etc.)?
  • What theories of the “global” are provided by and contested in Black Critical Thought?
  • How do divergent conceptualizations of temporality complicate our understanding of the rupture?
  • How has the drive toward neoliberal inclusion and multicultural coalitions set the parameters of acceptable or heretic discourse and performativity within the broader field?
  • What kind of aesthetic and activist practices emerge out of skepticism about relational capacity and multicultural allyship?
  • How do we (at)tend to the violence that subsumes the Black intramural, and what purchase does the concept of ‘relation’ have in the intramural context?
  • What kinds of conclusions about relation can be drawn by foregrounding an analysis of structural position in o/apposition to embodied experience?
  • Does that attention to position provide a useful heuristic for attending to both the question of Black gender as well as the gender of Blackness?  

By raising these questions, this workshop seeks to encourage lively discussion on new directions of the field.



  • 500-word (max) Abstract and short biography through the portal which can be accessed at: are due on February 22, 2019. 
  • Selected presenters are expected to pre-circulate their 12 to 15-page papers (double-spaced) at the beginning of May 2019 to receive feedback from graduate student and faculty respondents.
  • The workshop will open with an evening plenary, followed by 2 full days of presentations. Presenters must attend all workshop sessions.
  • Room-share hotel accommodation and a reasonable transport subsidy will be provided for non-Chicago presenters

For more information, contact: