ⓘ Afro-pessimism is a field of thought which takes seriously the historical reality that blackness is politically and ontologically coterminous with slaveness. Ac ..

                                     

ⓘ Afro-pessimism

Afro-pessimism is a field of thought which takes seriously the historical reality that blackness is politically and ontologically coterminous with slaveness. According to the 2018 Oxford Bibliography entry on Afro-pessimism written by Patrice Douglass, Selamawit D. Terrefe, and Frank B. Wilderson III, afro-pessimism can be understood as" a lens of interpretation that accounts for civil society’s dependence on anti-black violence - a regime of violence that positions black people as internal enemies of civil society.” This violence, they argue," cannot be analogized with the regimes of violence that disciplines the Marxist subaltern, the postcolonial subaltern, the colored but nonblack Western immigrant, the nonblack queer, or the nonblack woman.” According to Wilderson, the scholar who coined the term as it functions most popularly today, afro-pessimism theorizes blackness as a position of, using the language of scholar Saidiya Hartman, "accumulation and fungibility"; that is, as a condition of - or relation to - ontological death, as opposed to a cultural identity or human subjectivity.

As opposed to humanist anthropologists, historians, sociologists, and political scientists who engage the history of Black subjectivity as one of entrenched political discrimination and social ostracization, afro-pessimists across disciplines have argued that Black people are constitutively excluded from the category of the self-possessing, rights-bearing human being of modernity. As Wilderson writes," Blacks do not function as political subjects; instead, our flesh and energies are instrumentalized for postcolonial, immigrant, feminist, LGBT, and workers’ agendas.”

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