Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography
This thesis interrogates the racialized nature of western modernity and the spaces and places of possibility for Black resistive creation. I explore the dominant socio-spatial structure’s antagonistic construction in opposition to Blackness (a construction that relegates Blackness as a spatial marker of abject otherness) and pose this question: If Blackness implies a homeless position in the dominant socio-spatial structure of the ‘modern’ world how might one conceptualize a Black sense of place? Perhaps more urgently, how might one imagine and act upon a liberatory Black sense of place?
The notion of becoming is useful to these questions. Both Georg Wilhelm Hegel and Stuart Hall offer salient insights and visions of becoming in relation to Black subjectivity. Both scholars theorize the idea of becoming as the subjective transformation of Blackness in relation to the dominant socio-spatial structure of modernity, however their visions are distinct. Hegel’s understanding of becoming is premised on the destruction of Blackness whereas Hall’s view relies upon re-imagining Blackness outside of the constructs of oppressive Eurocentric modernity so as to create resistive spaces. Hall’s perspective offers a wider frame of possibilities.
Two case studies form the body of this thesis: I explore a newly popularized term Afropolitanism and a 2014-2015 campaign run by The Real Silent Sam Coalition at UNC-Chapel Hill. I read both of these cases through Hegel and Hall’s opposing understandings of becoming in order to reveal the different conceptualizations of Black liberatory senses of place that they present.
These two case studies suggest that submitting to this position of abject otherness has potential to create Black liberatory futures. In fact, improvising from restive spaces and speaking from a place of abject otherness in the case of the RSSC seems to have been crucial to their success in opening new liberating spaces.