The Social Life of Social Death
Part of what Afropessimism argues is that the paradigm of violence that elaborates and positons Blackness cannot be analogized with the paradigm of violence that elaborates and positons other oppressed categories. This is because anti-Black violence is a form of psychic healing for the rest of world and, in that, it differs from the kind of violence that we normally associate with the subaltern (non-Black working class, women, LGBT, and colonial subjects). It is a violence that relegates Blackness to functioning as a narrative prop in the stories of others and as a foil against which what it means to be human can be defined and made legible.
But what does it mean to life a "life" inside and soup of death? And how do the other two elements of social death (general dishonor and natal alienation) play out in the day to day lives of Black people and in the cinematic rendering of those lives?
The films Frank B. Wilderson III selected for this series will all, in very different ways, address these questions, without offering a road map for how they can be redressed.
About the curator:
Frank B. Wilderson III is Chancellor’s Professor of African American Studies Department at UC Irvine. During the apartheid era he spent five and a half years in South Africa where he was one of two Americans to hold elected office in the African National Congress and was a cadre in the underground. His books include Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid, winner of the American Book Award, The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship; Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms; and Afropessimism, which was long listed for the National Book Award. Wilderson was educated at Dartmouth College (A.B/Government and Philosophy), Columbia University (MFA/Fiction Writing), and UC Berkeley (PhD/Rhetoric and Film Studies).