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Ordinary Violence and Network Form: On #blacklivesmatter
Thursday, May 3, 2018 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
This talk addresses the hashtag #blacklivesmatter as a network form: a network (counter)infrastructure for the circulation and visualization of the ordinary state and quasistate violence visited upon Black bodies and populations in the United States. The University of Toronto’s Scott C. Richmond argues that #blacklivesmatter as a hashtag–but specifically neither the videos of violence and death that have circulated under it, nor the penumbra of political movements grouped under the moniker Black Lives Matter–can be productively theorized as a Black, feminist, and queer infrastructure of mourning and care on the network. In Christina Sharpe’s terms, #blacklivesmatter is a form of wake work–a digital and networked form of Black annotation that makes visible Black lives and the violence to which they are subject. It does so outside of the logics of melodrama and white identification that have organized so much of the history of figurations of Black suffering in American life. Reading with Sharpe, Saidiya Hartman, Nicole Fleetwood, Shaka McGlotten, Eyal Weizman, and others, Richmond argues that what is at stake in #blacklivesmatter is a Black political form that is also an emphatically network form, operating below, beyond, and to the side of what can be practiced, grasped at the level of the individual, of intention, and of representation.
Scott C. Richmond is assistant professor of cinema and digital media at the University of Toronto, where his teaching and research focus on avant-garde cinema and experimental media, film theory and media theory, and phenomenology and critical theory. His work has appeared, among other places in World Picture, Discourse, and the Journal of Visual Culture. He is coeditor, with Elizabeth Reich, of a special issue of Film Criticism entitled “New Approaches to Cinematic Identification.” His first book, Cinema’s Bodily Illusions: Flying, Floating, and Hallucinating, is published by the University of Minnesota Press. He is currently completing a second book entitled Find Each Other: On Encountering Others in Media.