The White Spaces learning gatherings are part of a process of learning and change through dialogue.
We anticipate these gatherings taking place over these next months of 2022. The broad aim is to gather to learn with others who are engaging with ideas of global colonial whiteness in antiracism which challenge substantialist approaches to white identities. The purpose is to extend and create a network of support for our antiracist thinking and practice. Without making prior assumptions as to how and in what ways that might materialise.
Our inaugural gatherings will take place at the end of March. As a starting session, on March 29, we will have the pleasure to welcome Ronald Cummings and Nalini Mohabir for a launch presentation and discussion around the new book they coedited The Fire That Time: Transnational Black Radicalism and the Sir George Williams Occupation (2022). Ronald Cummings is Associate Professor of Black Studies and African Diaspora Literatures at McMaster University, Hamilton (Ontario) and Nalini Mohabir is Assistant Professor of postcolonial geographies at Concordia University, Montreal (Quebec). They are both members of the Protests & Pedagogy Committee.
See here for more about this event including registration.
In a similar vein, on March 30, we have chosen to meet for a conversation on the paper ‘Doing good in blackface: a consuming story’ (2021) by black feminist activist and political theorist, Assistant Professor of political sciences at Geneva University (Switzerland) Noémi Michel. We will also discuss who would be interested in participating in these future gatherings, under what modality and format – reading sessions, workshops, presentation of work in progress.
See here for more about this event including registration. We have chosen to anchor our inaugural discussions and planning via an engagement with these recently published texts because we feel they capture many of our concerns as well as our aspirations for future possibilities for our own antiracist actions.
To come along and find out more please do register via the above links. We hope that you will be able to attend both events.
Background information and future plans
As organisers Gaspard and Shona are living and working in different countries and institutions and positioned differently in relation to the academy and the intersectional dynamics of whiteness and power. Both of us are stimulated to learn and grow in our antiracist practice through collective conversation and action between peers. For the moment, although this is open to discussion, we have proposed to call these meetings ‘learning gatherings’ even though they follow the series of masterclasses that took place in 2010-2013 organised by Say Burgin and other members of the Postgraduate arm of the White Spaces network. The ethos of the masterclasses held two aspects in tension. It was student led in an attempt to subvert the usual hierarchical dynamics of power and assumptions of expertise present in a masterclass model. Yet, it engaged with academic work and debate recognizing the specialist nature and contributions of conversations and activities going on in the academy in relation to supporting learning around whiteness as an orientation to power in the context of our contemporary global coloniality. We envisage continuing to work with these tensions rather than ignore the challenges that they produce in terms of power and process.
In this new iteration of activity, we envision these gatherings as meeting points: places to invest in and (re)create a community rooted in intellectual, artistic, activist, academic dialogues around antiracist issues raised by contemporary forms of racialization, whiteness and racism across interconnected geographical locations. They will aim to promote dialogue, collaboration, discussion, presentation of works and practices engaging with the intersectional dynamics of power forming our global coloniality and especially with the current neoliberal flattening of antiracist politics.
We see these meeting points as part of an undercommons (Moten and Harney, 2013), in the sense that they derive from the academy but can be seen as ways of negotiating a way through the growing material cultural and affective pressures catalyzed by the pandemic and experienced across a range of institutions, antiracist social movements and informal antiracist actions. Their format attempts to address the weight of racializing dynamics in academic and activist forms as well as the translation of this weight into modes of white consumption of antiracist energies (Michel, 2021) and forms of conservative politics.
We hope that you’ll be interested in this project and that you’ll be able to join us for these sessions and then stay interested enough to engage further.
Our email contacts are:
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions. We are looking forward to hearing from you.
Michel, N. (2021) « Doing good in blackface: a consuming story », Darkmatter Hub (Beta), vol.15. Online. URL: https://darkmatter-hub.pubpub.org/pub/0aclt8cj/release/1.
Moten F. and Harney S. (2013). The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study. New York, Autonomedia.
For more from Fred Moten that encapsulates our understanding of collaboration see here