RETHINKING BLACK RESISTANCE
Editor: Linette Park (Dartmouth College)
In the era of Black Lives Matter, the uncertainty of blackness continues to pose a complex historico-political and psychical question concomitant to the gratuity of anti-blackness. The murders of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Dominique Rem’mie Fells, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others echo the long-standing history and disavowal of anti-blackness that prefigure the symbolic semblances of civil society, the nation, and politics in the United States and globally. If, with the daily staggering evidence of anti-blackness, black resistance forces us to rethink the relations between politics and the political, slavery and policing, racialization and the desires of the state, it also forces us to rethink the signs and contexts of black liberation as emancipatory discourses of resistance. The essays in this special issue address the precarity of black life through leading figures and texts: including the human, the citizen, violence/ non-violence, insurrection, and global migration; and the narratives through which blackness “works” or is put to “work” (insofar as its enslavement ramifies, supports, and uncovers white sovereign being). Moreover, at the heart of its inquiry, the special issue asks what are the paths of reading that enable an intervention in—and consequently, a resistance to—the existing axioms and dominant modes of thought that determine both the impasses and/or possibilities for a radical black tradition.
Editors: Patty Keller (Cornell) and Rhiannon Welsh (UC Berkeley)
What is deceleration and what is unique about it today? Why does slowness persist as an aesthetic form? How might the recurrence of both—slowness and deceleration—be crucial to understanding our present moment? Decelerated aesthetics asks: what perceptual differences are necessary for a fuller account or understanding of the multiple and conflictual histories that subtend contemporaneity? And what kinds of technologies and registers are needed in order to engage such differences?
FATE AND CHARACTER
Editors: Paul Fleming (Cornell), Rachel Aumiller (ICI Berlin), Sam Dolbear (ICI Berlin), Tom Vandeputte (ICI Berlin)
Walter Benjamin’s ‘Fate and Character’ occupies a curious status in the reception of his work. Published in 1921 but composed in the fall of 1919, the essay was part of the constellation of writings translated into English in the late 1970s. Benjamin repeatedly stressed the significance of the essay, and reports that he counts it “among the best of [his] works.” Despite this, and perhaps because of its highly condensed and enigmatic quality, the text has not received the same critical attention as the other texts from the same period. And yet ‘Fate and Character’ can be considered as the text where Benjamin first engages with the constellation of themes central to his political writings, urgent questions of our moment as much as his: the critique of law, the notion of bare life, the persistence of myth in modernity, the “improper” temporality of fate, and the formation of the subject in history. This special issue of Diacritics is entirely dedicated to this puzzling eight-page text. What is at stake, however, is not only an examination of the relevance of ‘Fate and Character’ for the study of Benjamin’s writings, but also an exploration of how the constellation of themes structuring the essay may speak to a broader range of discussions across the humanities today.