Black Diasporic Visions: (De)Constructing Modes of Power (Spring 2021)

Prof. Javiela Evangelista (African American Studies, City Tech)

Prof. Carla Shedd (Urban Education, The Graduate Center)

Black Diasporic Visions turns us toward a myriad of pathways for liberation formed by African people and people of African decent inside and outside of oppressive structures of power, as well as the development of alternative visions and spaces. More specifically, in this course, we consider these constructions which are often despite, within and at the intersections of institutions and systems that impact education, the prison industrial complex, food justice, public planning, preservation, legal personhood and climate change. It is our hope that the knowledge that grows out of Black Diasporic Visions may inform and continue to be informed by urgent interventions and creations today.

African people and people of African descent have always, envisioned, created. It is in part for the capture of innovation for profit, that early African civilizations were enslaved and African developments redirected. Let us read African and African descendant innovations and demands for being, with as much rigor as we read exploitation and oppression. In Black Diasporic Visions we consider how the tools of literary archaeology and magical realism inform how freedom dreams and provide possibilities for just existences and being seen. We examine what may be gleaned from the use of the ringshout by artist Common to honor the life of Freddie Grey, the Free Breakfast Programs organized by the Black Panther Party for educational reform, large statutes of African descendants by artists such as Simone Leigh and Kehinde Wiley that reclaim and redefine public space, community incorporation of solar panels and farming into educational programming in post hurricane Puerto Rico, embodied avatars as a means of survival as defined by Uri McMillan, and the call and response of #sayhername?

New technologies of expulsion and racial capital call for us to consider what it means to be in the wake, doing wake work, as described by Christina Sharpe. The range of constructions and visions reviewed in this course serve as correctives and prescriptives to the problems of omission and misrepresentation in academia, archives and society at large. Ultimately, Black Diasporic Visions, centralizes historically and globally informed liberatory possibilities, imperative to our lives today, that challenge divides between theory and practice.

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