SSMF 2022: “Pause”
Pause and Black Feminist Thought(s)
Engaging Black feminist thought/Black feminism(s) and practices as a vehicle, this panel discusses core questions raised by the SSMF theme: For whom is pause a privilege? For whom is it a need for existence? How do our (media and other) practices respond to the notions of pause? Panelists will speak on their work across the Black diaspora.
This panel is co-sponsored by the Center for Media at Risk at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.
Thumbnail image on homepage: Still from Chrystel Oloukoi’s The Black Nocturnal, 2021.
Moderated by Florence Madenga, University of Pennsylvania
Saturday, March 26, 5:00 PM — 6:15 PM Eastern
The Church of Black Feminist Thought
Ra Malika Imhotep
University of California, Berkeley
The Church of Black Feminist Thought (CoBFT) is a transnational embodied spiritual-political education project co-convened by Ra Malika Imhotep & miyuki baker in an effort to share citations in more accessible ways and to surface the oft-overlooked labor of black feminist artists, scholars, and writers. While much academic work is suspended in long publishing timelines and hard-to-decipher language, The Church of Black feminist Thought believes that bringing the words of black feminist thinkers into conversation in physical (or digital) space, then translating our collective ruminations into visual storytelling and illustration will nourish and support many. The Black Feminist Study Theory Atlas we’ve created is designed to activate a more imaginative way to access learning that nourishes the spirit. The counter-imaginations and strategies for how to thrive in our minds, bodies, and spirits pulled from the rich traditions of Black feminist Thought and Practice are thus shared in a format that opens up to living with theory/knowledge/wisdom, rather than mastering it.
The Stillness of the Sovereign: Palenquera women and Embodied Enactments of Refusal in the Colombian Caribbean
This work centers the everyday lives, labor practices and grassroots mobilization of Palenquera women, female Afro-Colombian street vendors work in the historical district of Cartagena, Colombia. Building on the theme of pause, Amber theorizes stillness as a particular mode of embodied contestation she terms postures of refusal. She demonstrates how Palenquera women use stillness in order to affirm their sovereign status and mark themselves as legible to private and state actors who attempt to reconfigure them into apolitical symbols of cultural heritage in accordance with neoliberal and multiculturalist policies. By attending to stillness, her work examines how sovereignty becomes produced as an embodied stance, its enactments and the processes of alienation against which sovereign beings must contend. Through strategic deployments of refusal, disavowal and opacity, Palenquera women manage to refute processes of alienation and affirm their status as (in)alienable bodies, even while engaging in essentialized forms of cultural performance.
Chrystel is working on a series of experimental short films entitled “Black Nocturnal”, related to her dissertation, a continuously expanding archive of engagements with nighttime and surveillance, primarily in Lagos and Boston. She employs a diversity of formats – digital, 16mm, (fake) surveillance footage and smartphone images – to investigate the ambivalence of nighttime, as a time-space of intensified surveillance by state and non-state actors over marginalized bodies, and a time-space of potential subversion from disciplinary gazes. Via an aesthetic of fragments, obliqueness and underexposure, this series refuses the violence of visualization, and asks what ways of seeing, knowing, and being might emerge from engagements with dark matters.
Deborah A. Thomas
University of Pennsylvania
Deborah A. Thomas is the R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology, and the Director of the Center for Experimental Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation, Exceptional Violence, and Modern Blackness. Thomas co-directed the documentary films Bad Friday and Four Days in May, and she is the co-curator of a multi-media installation titled Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston. Prior to her life in the academy, she was a professional dancer with the New York-based Urban Bush Women.