Dark Matters: Afro-pessimism, Black Feminism, Post-structuralism and the Making of the (Un)human

Manthia Diawara
Department of Comparative Literature and
Africana Studies, FAS
Allen Feldman
Department of Media Culture and Communication
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development
Kelli Moore
Assistant Professor
Department of Media, Culture, and Communication
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development

Description: Rather than the 2008 promise of a post racial America, the ensuing period signaled the growing dysfunction of the civil rights era of legislated and reparative racial recognition. This two year workshop turns to alternative etiologies of racial dereliction seeking a shift in diagnostic vocabularies consistent with the precepts of transitional justice and historical reparation that speak to the theft and ongoing denial of “civil dignity’ by the Middle Passage which inaugurated our political-economic modernity and sustains the latter in its historical and structural afterlife. Through collective readings, guest lectures, film screenings and faculty/student presentations we will interface the Afro-pessimist, Black feminist and poststructuralist-posthumanist thinking on embodiment, (de)subjectification, violence, human and inhuman development and liberal democracy. We will articulate these outlying schools of thought to engage post-civil and posthuman rights emergency zones exemplified by the violent policing of internally excommunicated and/or externally dislocated bodies traversing the concussed topologies of Ferguson-style policing, the war on terror and the xenophobic treatment of asylum seekers. Part and parcel of rethinking race after civil rights is excavating the cultural and political archaeology of slavocracy in the aforementioned internal and external emergency zones.

Discard Studies

Robin Nagle
Clinical Professor
Liberal Studies
Rosalind Fredericks
Assistant Professor of Geography and Development Studies

Description: The Discard Studies Collaborative brings together faculty and students from across NYU to consider the complex and chronically perplexing issue of waste, broadly defined. Our immediate goal is to organize an inclusive, on-going conversation about waste in its many permutations and consequences. Our longer-term goal is to foster a community of students and scholars whose work helps articulate Discard Studies as a robust interdisciplinary field of inquiry. The phrase “Discard Studies,” first coined by Robin Nagle and colleagues at NYU through development of the now widely-recognized Discard Studies blog, constitutes an increasingly important area of research within a range of disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and in the fields of design and architecture. It explores the sustainability of economic processes, especially as they relate to urbanism; interconnections between people and realms defined as “nature;” and the WAYS IN which social relations of difference are codified through material AND semiotic registers of waste and disposability. Despite attention to waste within diverse fields, however, these conversations remain disparate, and there is no academic center taking stock of or giving form to this growing body of work. Given NYU’s history with discard studies and its preponderance of discard scholars, as well as the wealth of scholars and practitioners working on waste in New York City, the University is poised to take a pioneering role in shaping research on this important and timely topic.

Humanities for STEM: Using Archives to Bridge the Two Cultures
Christopher Leslie
Lecturer of Media, Science and Technology Studies
Department of Technology, Culture and Society
NYU Tandon School of Engineering
Lindsay Anderberg
Interdisciplinary Science & Technology Librarian and Poly Archivist
Bern Dibner Library
NYU Libraries

Description: Humanities for STEM focuses on how the study of primary sources, archival research, and associated methodologies of the humanities can be used to enhance the understanding of science, technology, engineering, and medicine. This collaborative will explore the ways in which archives and special collections can support scholarship and education in the sciences, discuss the ways in which scholars in the sciences and humanities use archival collections, and expose scholars to STEM related archives, with a particular focus on collections at NYU and the NYC area. This group of scientists, humanists, archivists, and graduate students will discuss topics relating to archival outreach and access, integration of archival research into STEM education, the role of STEM collections in scholarly research, and new approaches to bridging gaps between the sciences and humanities through the use of archives.