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Tag: Jasbir Puar

Thinking blackly beyond bio politics and bare life

Alexander Weheliye’s 2014 book, Habeas Viscus is a vital critique of two dominant accounts of the limits and contours of humanity: Michel Foucault’s biopolitics and Giorgio Agamben’s bare life. But beyond providing us with a much needed problematisation of these two theories, what they omit, and the Eurocentrisms they reproduce, this book offers much more. In fact, despite the book’s framing around the critique of bare life and biopolitics, Habeas Viscus in my reading is really a call to see race – and thus the concept of the human – otherwise and a rallying call for Black thought and its centrality for making sense of modernity. Alexander Weheliye, a professor of African-American studies, is primarily a cultural-literary theorist/philosopher. His points of reference and his lyrical, evocative but dense writing style are harder for sociologists to access. Nevertheless, his insistence on placing Black feminist thought at the heart of this theorization of race, the human and the ‘possibilities of other worlds’ (Weheliye 2014: 2) means that there is a lot that race critical students interested in the function of race but also the constant possibility of self-emancipation in the face of its structuring constraints can learn from his groundbreaking book.

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Race, Sexuality and Rights Workshop

I attended the Race, Sexuality and Rights Workshop at the University of Sydney yesterday, December 10. The event was organised by Dinesh Wadiwel and featured a talk by Jasbir Puar who was visiting Australia to attend the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association conference which starts in Adelaide today.

The participants were called upon to read two papers by Puar, one more theoretical which discusses the interrelationship between intersectionality and assemblage theory, and the second on pinkwashing and pinkwatching in relation to Israel-Palestine published in Jaddaliya. These papers and some wider issues around them were discussed in four fascinating interventions by Ihab Shalbak, Gilbert Caluya, Regrette Etcetera, and Angela Mitropoulos.

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Alana Lentin