Afro Pessimism Core

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Afro Pessimism Core

Lab Perspective:

The world is sculpted through the logic and sociological ordering of the Middle Passage; and modern surveillance policy is just another iteration of chattel slave logic. The argument is functionally that there can be no hope for the black body within the current political system.


Link - Privacy

The very yearning for privacy is anti-black. Black bodies have been historically banned from the public sphere and at the same time had to make their most intimate feelings, their pain, and thoughts available to whiteness at every turn. Black people have had to model interiority while having none of their own. Calls for rights and privacy are moves toward whiteness and against blackness.

And should be rejected on face

CASTIGLIA prof of English @ Penn State 2015 Christopher; “Abolition’s racial interiors and the making of white civic depth

Although the displacement of citizenship onto divine will shares a logic of irresistibly expansive republicanism with nineteenth-century imperialism, the “privatizing” of citizenship to individual affect had equally conflicting results. Since privileged Americans, in entering the public, risked evacuating the private, other Americans had to bear the burden of representing interiority in its threefold nature: morality, virtue, and affect. An extensive body of criticism has demonstrated that the association of white womanhood with a supposedly natural relationship to domestic privacy allowed white men to develop a commercial sphere unimpeded by emotional or moral qualms, while limiting the legal, social, and economic potentials of antebellum women. Black Americans bore a similar burden of interior representation, representing traits of piety, nurturance, and conjugal fidelity threatened by the outrages of slavery: mothers could not raise their children; husbands could not provide homes for wives or even ensure their wedding bond; women could not control their sexuality; slaves were not permitted a spiritual life. Constructed as pure, pious, and domestic, black Americans came to represent an already feminized privacy. The division of abolition authority into (black) privacy and (white) publicity meant, on the one hand, that black Americans themselves could not be represented as properly public figures (hence Garrison’s objections to Frederick Douglass’s decision to edit a newspaper and honor national institutions—that is, to enter the discourses of national publicity—himself, rather than through Garrison’s mediation).17 On the other hand, it meant that white abolitionists needed to pass through a black interior (experiencing, through sympathy, black pain so as to speak with a public authority), allowing themselves a racially bivalent persona that blacks themselves were denied. Although whites such as Garrison could move in and out of the national symbolic, criticizing the nation so as paradoxically to gain ground in its public discourse, blacks, who had no privileged place in that public, were positioned as the unwavering bearers of (privatized, interiorized) virtue.

Link – Surveillance/Racism Aff

The seeming benevolence of the aff is nothing but a cruel joke to allow more intimate surveillance of the black body sympathy and promises are only meant to make black bodies ever more vulnerable to the aff we say


CASTIGLIA prof of English @ Penn State 2015 Christopher; “Abolition’s racial interiors and the making of white civic depth

Sympathy is never simply an outpouring of individual sentiment; it is an affective register of more obviously collective social arrangements.4 Some contemporary critics have celebrated sympathy for creating a fellow feeling that prompts the privileged to imagine themselves in the place of the less fortunate.5 This account of affective sociability builds on the first step in Adam Smith’s 1759 Theory of Moral Sentiments, which argues that sympathizers create mental tableaux in which they see themselves in the place of the sufferer, thereby creating an imaginative bridge between socially separated peoples. Others have complicated such formulations of democratic sociability, noting how sympathy generates theatrical distance by creating suffering as a spectacle watched from afar.6 This second model makes a more careful use of Smith, who, denying the merger of sympathizer and sufferer, claims, “Mankind, though naturally sympathetic, never conceive, for what has befallen another, that degree of passion which naturally animates the person principally concerned” (26). Sympathetic identification, for Smith, is “but momentary,” kept in check by the sympathizers’ self-concern: “the thought that they themselves are not the real sufferers, continually intrudes itself upon them, and though it does not hinder them from conceiving a passion somewhat analogous to what is felt by the sufferer, hinders them from conceiving anything that approaches to the same degree of violence” (26–27). In both models, self-transformation lies with the person who extends sympathy. For Smith, however, sympathy also transforms the sufferer, who, sensing the spectatorial distance maintained by the cautious sympathizer, “longs for that relief which nothing can afford him but the entire concord of the affections of the spectators with his own” (26–27). The sufferer may achieve this “entire concord,” Smith writes, only “by lowering his passion to that pitch, in which the spectators are capable of going along with him. He must flatten, if I may be allowed to say so, the sharpness of its natural tone, in order to reduce it to harmony and concord with the emotions of those who are about him” (27).7 If one expresses 36 Abolition’s Racial Interiors an emotion too extreme or a suffering too unusual, the audience will be unable to identify and will experience no sympathy. The burden therefore falls on the sufferer to conceal extremes or anomalies, or to translate them into scenarios with which the audience will be familiar. Sufferers must transform themselves, in a model of imagined spectatorial normalization that Foucault, following Smith’s contemporary Jeremy Bentham, called panopticism: just as the spectators place themselves in the sufferer’s situation, Smith writes, so the sufferer must “imagine in what manner he would be affected if he was only one of the spectators of his own situation” (28).8 In sympathetic abolition, for instance, the suffering of slaves might be shaped to correlate with texts white audiences had previously encountered: other slave narratives, white reports of slavery such as Theodore Weld’s American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1839), or especially popular works of fiction such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852). Even while serving as the keynote of benevolence, then, sympathy was a form of surveillant discipline—what we might call sympathetic discipline—in which the black sufferer must imagine himself or herself always in the eyes of whites, becoming a body shaped by an idea of a body.

Link - Relations

The scholarly discipline is uniquely anti-black; justifies colonialism, war slavery, and strategic displacement of black bodies in the name of justice and peace.

PERSUAD assoc prof of International service @ American U & WALKER prof of political Science U of Victoria 2k1 Randolph B. Persaud and, R.B.J. Walker- apertura: Race in international relations- Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, Oct-Dec, 2001

The theory of international relations has shown a famous aversion to complex and multiply contested concepts. It has been especially silent about race, as about many other practices that cannot be quickly reduced to claims about the necessities of states in a modern states-system. Like culture, economy, or gender, it does not fit into the prevailing division of the world into "levels" above (the international) and below (the individual) the state. Unlike culture, economy, and gender, there has been very little attempt to insist that claims about race do indeed deserve serious discussion in the context of a changing international or global order. From time to time, of course, the discipline does open up to problems hitherto deemed outside its epistemological boundaries. "Opening up" has historically resulted from sustained wars of position between the forces that represent a broadening of the proper subjects of the discipline and those who insist that international relations (IR) is about "war and peace" among states. It may be time for one more apertura; namely, for race to be systematically incorporated into the analysis of global politics. Consider the following: The first global attempt to speak of equality focused upon race. The first human rights provisions in the United Nations Charter were placed there because of race. The first international challenge to a country's claim of domestic jurisdiction and exclusive treatment of its own citizens centered upon race. The international convention with the greatest number of signatories is that on race. Within the United Nations, more resolutions deal with race than any other subject. And certainly one of the most long-standing and frustrating problems in the United Nations is that of race. Nearly one hundred eighty governments, for example, recently went as far as to conclude that racial discrimination and racism still represent the most serious problems for the world today. (1) The primary problem that must be addressed is not that race has been ignored in IR (there is, in fact, a fairly significant literature on racial factors in world politics), but that race has been given the epistemological status of silence. Silence, Michel-Ralph Trouillot tells us, has four moments; namely, "the moment of fact creation (the making of sources); the moment of fact assembly (the making of archives); the moment of retrieval (the making of narratives); and the moment of retrospective significance (the making of history in the final instance)." (2) Silence is also linked to invisibility, which, according to John Maclean, "refers to the removal (not necessarily through conscious action) from a field of enquiry, either concrete aspects of social relations, or of certain forms of thought about them." (3) At a minimum, the politics of race and the practices of racism have been part of global relations in the following ways. First, racial discourses have performed a taxonomical role by dividing up the world into various binary opposites such as civilized/uncivilized; modern/backward; rational/superstitious, developed/undeveloped, and so on. As Ashis Nandy has pointed out, (4) this ordering of the world is readily framed as a relation between adult and child, and the processes of colonialism and neocolonialism in which such binary taxonomies have been instantiated have involved both subtle and very unsubtle practices of infantilization. Second, the impact of race on the spatial and demographic configuration of the world cannot be overemphasized. The modern world system was very much shaped by conquest of territories and peoples. Conquest involved a long, brutalizing engagement between Europeans and indigenous populations throughout the world, the end result being not the discovery of the New World but the remaking of that world in the image of the conquerors. The displacement or disappearance of indigenous populations in all of the Americas, the Caribbean, and many parts of Asia and Africa, combined with the instrumental and arbitrary implantation of peoples from completely different cultural backgrounds, have had enormous consequences for the global politics of belonging and identity. Moreover, the collective memories of these displacements still weigh heavily on the global politics of identity and difference. Third, the world economy has been significantly influenced by racialized labor supply and other practices of labor recruitment, such as, among others, indentureship in the nineteenth century, importation of Third World domestic labor, and trafficking in mostly Third World sex workers. Although modern African slavery may not have been caused by racism, (5) an ideology of racial supremacy was crucial in stabilizing acute economic exploitation. These racialized practices of supremacy were important not only in terms of the global framework of race-based, coerced economic exploitation, but also in terms of forming the deep structures of the modern world system. In more recent times, these deep structures have been important in managing a careful balance between labor supply, on the one hand, and immigration control, on the other. Stephen Castles and Alastair Davidson, for example, have shown that practically all "white" countries (along with Japan), for instance, have had some version of a "white only" policy, ei ther in relation to immigration or the granting of citizenship. (6) Fourth, race has been a decisive force in the constitution of social formations, and many societies have been produced through aggravated racial othering. Othering is a complex of cultural and political practices that instantiate identity by framing and reproducing difference. The production of "racial sameness" (7) is, and has long been, an integral aspect of a general strategy of inscribing the principles of national solidarity and the broader cultural framework of citizenship. The contradictory and often violent racio-cultural politics of nation building and national cohesion must be of interest to the IR scholar because they speak directly to particular forms of internal instability, such as "ethnic cleansing" or, as in the case of Rwanda, to outright genocide. To say the least, these violent practices throw entire regions into disarray and generate further violence.

Link – Gender/Feminism

The concept of gender in this modernity is a product of European epistemology and does not apply to black bodies or the black social condition

BROECK Professor of black diasporic and gender studies @ The U of Bremem 2k8 Sabine; “University of Bremen, Germany, Gender Forum, Issue 22 (2008)

(White) Gender Studies may decide to reflect self-critically on its own embeddedness in the Enlightenment proposal of human freedom which strategically split a certain group of humans, namely enslaved African-origin people, from the constitutive freedom to possess themselves and as such, from any access to subjectivity, which entailed, as Hortense Spillers above all has argued, a splitting of African-origin women from gender. If, thus, the knowledge of the slave trade and slavery will become the site of a rereading of Enlightenment, modernity and postmodernity, a revised theoretical, and material approach to an epistemology of emancipation like Gender Studies will be possible. Gender Studies, too, lives "in the time of slavery," in the "future created by it" (Hartman 2007, 133). It is the economic, cultural and epistemic regime of human commodification, that transgressive nexus of violence, desire and property which first formed the horizon of the Euro-American modernity that US and European intellectuals, including Gender Studies, have known and claimed. The Enlightenment's proposal of human subjectivity and rights which was in fact inscribed into the world the slave trade and slavery had made (Blackburn), created a vertical structure of access claims to self-representation and social participation from which African-origin people, as hereditary commodities, were a priori abjected. It is on the basis of that abjection, that the category of woman, of gender as a framework to negotiate the social, cultural and economic position of white European women was created. To accept that the very constitution of gender as a term in European early modernity was tied to a social, cultural and political system which constitutively pre-figured "wasted lives," and an extreme precariousness of what constitutes human existence, throws contemporary notions of gendered subjectivity into stark relief. Hartman's work, therefore, may be read as just as axiomatic as Bauman's, Butler's or Agamben's in measuring postmodern global challenges to critical theory. Elaine Scary's, Susan Sontag's interventions on pain and voyeurism, and Spillers' or Wood's considerations, more specifically, on the sexualized campaigns of Anglo-American abolition, have compounded the challenge for an epistemology of slavery as a modern episteme not to recycle abolitionist titillation - the risk to become part of a second order abolitionist discourse must, however, be run. To play an active role in the project of decolonizing (post) modern critical theory, gender studies need to acknowledge and reckon with black de-colonial feminist interventions beyond add-on approaches. Those interventions will enable an epistemic turn away from the solipsistic quasi universal presentism of much of contemporary theory, and make it answerable to its own indebtedness to the history of early modern Europe, and the New World. Hartman's and Spiller's texts, as well as Morrison's writing become something like deconstructive guides: we are being asked to look, and listen with black women's perspectives - but at the same time the texts fold back on themselves, and thus on our reading; they disrupt a smooth appropriation of suffering, they derail us from a swift hate for the Thistlewoods (Mother, 61). Those texts under scrutiny here do enact a kind of self-conscious parasitism, forcing readers into complicity - but they refuse to do it innocently, disrupting a renewed take on slavery by way of abolitionist benevolence. They teach readers that the boundaries of the archive cannot be trespassed at will, and without consequence; and they also teach us to respect what Hartman calls, with Fred Moten, "black noise" (2008, 12).

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