Haunted Futures: The Utopian Margins (2021)

Talk presented on 8 November 2021 at the Institute for Critical Inquiry (ICI) Berlin DE.

The philosopher Ernst Bloch declared that “all given existence and being itself has utopian margins which surround actuality with real and objective possibility.” This talk takes up the idea of the utopian margins, along with its distinctive temporality, and explores some of what haunts the utopian archive as we know it. Focusing on items held by the Hawthorn Archive, the talk invites consideration of the utopian margins where running away, marronage, vagrancy, rebellion, soldier desertion and other often illegible forms of escape, resistance and alternative ways of life predominate:

Daily into the Blue. Wish ourselves where things are named more clearly. The child wants to be a bus conductor or a confectioner. Seeks long journeys, far away, cake, every day. That seems like real living. With animals too we dream we are big…. The confectioner turns into a hunter, in a strangely filled outdoors. Green and blue runs the lizard… Even the stones are alive, but do not run away.

The philosopher Ernst Bloch declared that “all given existence and being itself has utopian margins which surround actuality with real and objective possibility.” And he wrote thousands of pages in an effort to describe those margins, warning that “every work which represents and informs this possibility…is full of augmented horizon problems.”

In this talk, I want to focus on those utopian margins, linger a bit on that wishing state where we dream we are big and the stones are alive and “things are named more clearly.” Another philosopher, Herbert Marcuse, once wrote that “social theory is concerned with the historical alternatives which haunt the established society as subversive tendencies and forces.” As I will try to suggest, although we are clearly haunted by the historical alternatives that could have been and by the peculiar temporality of the shadowing of lost and better futures that insinuates itself in the present, the utopian margins is a liminal place, neither a lost past nor an elusive future. The utopian margins are something else it’s hard to describe, something more like a fugitive mode of living the “what if” as if it were reality.We tend to think of the archive as a repository of memories, things, and documents from the past, or, as a technique that turns or arrests the present into a past. What kind of archive safeguards or keeps company with or “summons,” to use Chimurenga Library’s words, a past that the present hasn’t yet caught up with? Can such a past or such an archive be summoned to haunt the present as an alternative? Perhaps.

I think it’s important to say right at the start that the Hawthorn Archive is a real place and also an imaginary one. This makes it difficult to talk about because it involves moving between being inside its world and being outside of it; involves keeping with the elements of its fabulations and also standing outside of them to speak of it as a project to you in this context, a context in which, among other things, my role dominates and the collective enterprise is harder to get the measure of. The idea of the utopian margins is trying to get at this multiple world crossing -- and the book’s form as a set of archive files makes it easier (I think) to accept this moving between the real and the imaginary while reading the book--but I ask for your patience because you might find the whole business confusing and unsatisfying. I will try to briefly explain what’s meant by the utopian margins, although here too, I find the concept works best if it’s a bit elusive and furtive even.

The Hawthorn Archive gathers the utopian histories and practices of those who have long challenged the modern racial capitalist system but whose challenges have been obscured, including by the history of the utopian itself.The Archive houses, although it is not a proper library, an incomplete and disorganized intellectual history of a somewhat but not entirely random selection of radicals, fugitives, runaways, deserters, abolitionists, heretics, dreamers and in-differents, many tied to the Black Atlantic radical tradition, who at some point stopped doing what they were told they had to do, stopped thinking what they were told they had to think, and stopped being available for things they had no design in making or controlling.

The Hawthorn Archive is real and it is an imaginary infrastructure for a writing project that started off initially -- some time ago now --with the purpose of finding some shared language for the utopian elements found in a variety of defiant activity in the past and in the present. The focus of the Archive and the book that gathers some of its contents is a particular kind of political consciousness I call being in-difference and how this consciousness can be developed and sustained in practice. Being in-difference is a political consciousness and a sensuous knowledge: a standpoint and a mindset for living on better terms than what we’re offered, for living as if you had the freedom to do so, By better, I mean a collective life without misery, deadly inequalities, mutating racisms, social abandonment, endless war, police power, authoritarian governance, heteronormative impositions, patriarchal rule, cultural conformity, and ecological destruction. Being in-difference is a political consciousness and a sensuous knowledge for living in the acknowledgement that despite the overwhelming power of all the systems of domination that are trying to kill us, they do not completely control us.They are only one condition of our being. Being in-difference is a practice that helps you be or become, as the late African American writer Toni Cade Bambara put it, “unavailable for servitude, back stiff with conviction.”

The origins of the Hawthorn Archive, which is very old, is a long story for another occasion, and the subject of some of the files contained in the first section of the book. The origins of my becoming its keeper began in the mid-1990’s when I became interested in redefining what utopian thinking and practice has meant and could mean, if, for example, slavery and prison abolition, or the Jubilee anti-debt movement, or the arising of the indigenous Fourth World were examples of it. This interest was instigated by two prompts. The first was some questions left unresolved in my book on haunting, Ghostly Matters, specifically with respect to what it meant to see the better life and the desires for it -- what I called the something to be done that arises with and is carried by the ghost’s presence--as characteristic of or constitutive of haunting, not separate from it. I tried to explain this in an article in 2011, “Some Thoughts on Haunting and Futurity,” that also took up the question of time, specifically how prisoners do the social death sentence, so I will not repeat the detail here. But happy to discuss further.

The second provocation was that we were living through an important moment (now we might see it as the start of a long cycle we’re still in) of profound political, ontological and epistemological opposition inaugurated by diverse peoples across the globe -- the Zapatista’s first declaration from the Lacandon jungle in January of 1994 a flashpoint. This opposition has tracked what was a new phase of global capitalist expansion that has since had many names: globalisation, the new enclosures, the Fourth World War against Humanity, neoliberalism. The right launched a counterinsurgency offensive to the first wave of resistance, ideologically encapsulated by Margaret Thatcher’s famous diktat: There is no alternative or later Francis Fukuyama’s rather premature claim that history had ended. From the other side, too many radical intellectuals trivialized much of this opposition as “merely utopian,” not realistic or serious. And the cause of that managerial dismissal was precisely that this opposition was deeply engaged with movement politics and alternative life-forms that had long been excluded from what the term utopian signified.

There were and are good reasons to distrust and even dismiss the term utopian with its conventional meaning. You know it:a future perfect no place imagined as a little nation engineered by white middle class reformers and peopled with homogeneous populations who don’t have conflicts or complicated psychic lives. In my view, the main problem, however, was not so much the term’s idealism (ideas do have enormous power) or the future perfect tense with its indication that something will have happened in the future that is over by the time we get there (as in, “we will have abolished policing by then”). In my view, the main problem was the term’s archive: its deeply racialized historiography and narrow set of literary, aesthetic, philosophical, historical and sociological references. The Marxist dismissal of utopian socialism as nothing more than a kind of “mish-mash,” as Engels put it, was only one intellectual origin point for a notion of the utopian that treated the genocidal settler colonialism that founded the so-called New World as a successful utopian enterprise while absenting entirely what Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker call the “many headed hydra” of the “revolutionary” 17th c Atlantic: all those captives, slaves, maids, prisoners, pirates, sailors, heretics, indigenous peoples, deserters, commoners, and others, who challenged the making of the modern world capitalist system.

The utopian as we’ve come to know it includes the French and American Revolutions, but not the Haitian Revolution or the thirty-year war waged by the Black and Red Seminoles against the United States or any subsequent Fourth World refusals.[1] It includes Karl Marx, who absolutely hated the idea, but not Christian Priber-- you’ve no reason to know who he was -- a German socialist exile who joined the Cherokee Nation in 1736 and later died in prison refusing to declare loyalty to the British. The utopian as we know it includes the English craftsman William Morris, but not the African American worker, the self-named “Black Bolshevik” Harry Haywood; includes the philosopher Ernst Bloch's philosophy of hope, but not the Caribbean writer and theorist C.L.R. James's philosophy of happiness.The utopian as we came to know it includes numerous white middle class separatist communities in the US and Europe, but not one example of any instance of marronage in the entire Americas. And so on—the examples are many.

It was evident that there was an exclusionary zone of tremendous magnitude and that these exclusions define and haunt the history of the utopian and what it has and has not meant. The primary purpose of the Hawthorn Archive, however, is not to critique this exclusionary zone and tally up what’s missing. Rather, the purpose of the Archive is to show something of what’s in the space made invisible by the term’s diagnostic frame. In other words, to show something of what’s present in the blind field.There’s always something or someone living and breathing in the place blinded from view.The question is what and who is there.

There is another kind of utopianism in the blind field, although we almost never use the word utopian at the Archive. This other utopianism, for lack of another term, has distinct onto-epistemological affects and finds its historical roots precisely in that exclusionary zone:in slaves running away, in marronage, in piracy, heresy, vagrancy, vagabondage, rebellion, soldier desertion, and in other often illegible, illegitimate or trivialized forms of escape, resistance, and alternative ways of life.

This other utopianism lends to the term utopian a very different meaning, one rooted as equally in the past and the present as in the future, and it lends to the term a different notion of politics, immanent rather than transcendent. This other utopianism produces “temporary autonomous zones,” to use Hakim Bey’s term,that look less like the traditional rural separatist community and more like what sociologist Asef Bayat calls the “quiet encroachment” of the world’s urban poor, creating new life forms in the interstices of organized abandonment by the state. The other utopianism rejects individualization as subjectification with its consumerism and embraces cooperation oriented towards what the collective Claire Fontaine means by the “human strike.” This other utopianism creates feral economies, based on not-working as we know that activity as a means of exploitation, but rather based on local battering, unauthorized trading, theft, and nonstandard currencies and that displace the productivist ethos most socialist traditions have favored.This other utopianism is characterized by both direct action against and non-participation in liberal democratic state politics, and by various forms of what Leanne Simpson calls “generative refusal,” including boycotts, occupation, and mutual aid. This other utopianism gestures toward an alternate universe or civilization, long in the making, emerging out of and receding back into the shadows as needed, sometimes linking its varied traditions and strands in solidarity and fellowship, sometimes badly internally broken.

The Hawthorn Archive is equally a mode of producing and a mode of representing not so much “the other utopianism” as a scholarly object but of what I started to call, after the philosopher Ernst Bloch, the utopian margins. So, let me say a brief a word about this idea.

In his encyclopaedic and somewhat mad scientist three-volume work designed to create a philosophy of what his translators awkwardly call a “living theory-practice of … comprehended hope,” Bloch declared that “all given existence and being itself has utopian margins which surround actuality with real and objective possibility.” “Consequently,” he continued, “every work which represents and informs this possibility … is full of augmented horizon problems.” Bloch is looking for a philosophical language for those utopian margins or what he sometimes refers to as a utopian surplus or excess, and he’s looking everywhere: in individual daydreams and in ordinary life; in literature, visual art, music, and popular culture; in political movements and theories; and in experimental or separatist societies and communities. Hence three volumes! His search is fraught with what he calls horizon problems--tensions between what’s present and what’s absent, what’s past and future, and what’s historically material and what’s idealistically possible--and how to be open to the possibilities active in those horizons or margins, which are in various states of what he calls “unbecoming.”

These horizons problem result, in part, from the liminal nature of the possible. That’s to say, some of what’s possible is already here -- has been summoned to use Chimurenga Library’s language--and some of it is a not-yet or an anticipation coming from the past or the future. (In the utopian margins, past, present, future, and not-yet form a temporally discontinuous nonlinear historiography. As in, the future can change the past, just as the present can lag behind the past.) For Bloch, this not-yet or possibility is carried through time by something he calls red arrows, and also by other kinds of ghostly forms, such as drifting dreams, or what the late African America novelist Toni Morrison called “rememories,” those memories of places and events which are always waiting for you, regardless of whether they belong to you or not.

In this sense, the utopian margins can be a somewhat haunting and melancholy place. The animating spirits of those who came before in flight and fight and the drifting dreams of a better world, or what Bloch called the “intractable blue,” flash and shine “what is missing,” the characteristic modality of a ghost, which may also account for why Herbert Marcuse wrote that the “historical alternatives which haunt the established society as subversive tendencies and forces” were the proper domain of social theory.

But Bloch (or Marcuse for that matter) doesn’t leave it at that. Always, “there’s more here than meets the eye,” the more leaving “traces” that produce the feeling, as Adorno put it, that “something is really there” or “in the process of becoming.” Or, as Bloch would have it, in the utopian margins things are simply other than they are. Other than they are, in the utopian margins, the truth of people and things is seen not from the perspective of what we’re told is necessary and inevitable and really real, but from the perspective of the better we are capable of—what Bloch called in a beautiful phrase “the star of utopian destiny.” And he meant this quite literally. As he writes: “For more than two thousand years, the exploitation of man by man has been abolished in utopias.” There, “stupidity [has] lost its privileges,” and “millions of people [do] not allow themselves to be ruled, exploited and disinherited for thousands of years by a handful in the upper class.” “The vast majority” do “not put up with being the damned of the earth,” “revolutions” outnumber “wars” and succeed in “abolishing rather than exchanging oppressors.” No one is “hungry”; work is not “compulsory”; things are “held in common” and are “distributed equally.” As I say, idealism is not the problem.

Although we are clearly haunted by the historical alternatives that could have been and by the peculiar temporality of the shadowing of lost and better futures that insinuates itself in the present, the utopian margins are neither merely a lost past or an elusive future. The utopian margins are something else it’s hard to describe, something more like a fugitive mode of living the “what if” as if it were the dominant reality. The utopian margins are a liminal place -- perhaps it would be appropriate to say a queer place -- where delicate and difficult crossings, transformations, and transfigurations occur. For the utopian margins are not only where we can see that things are other than they are, see the accumulation of collective intelligence gathered from struggle that resides therein. It is also where we become something other than we were, where we develop new forms of life, where we grow what Herbert Marcuse provocatively called “organs for the alternative.”

The Hawthorn Archive sends and receives letters from the utopian margins. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that the Hawthorn Archive is situated on or in the utopian margins. Or, the Hawthorn Archive is part of a rich utopian surplus that exists in the past, present, not-yet, and future perfect. We tend to think of the archive as a repository of memories, objects, and documents from the past, or, as a name for a body of knowledge and information, or as a technique that represents or transforms events, institutions, biographies, information, processes and so into set of objects, documents and records, sometimes accessible for view and study, sometimes kept secret or highly restricted. So, what kind of archive is the Hawthorn Archive exactly? What kind of archive safeguards or keeps company with or summons a past that the present hasn’t yet caught up with in order to haunt the present as an alternative? What kind of archive is somehow at the crossroads of parallel universes in a constellation of stars of utopian destiny in which messages are carried across by red arrows, drifting dreams, by possibly terrifying re-memories, and, if Sun Ra was right, by his outer space music? What is the term archive even doing here?

Too much and not enough. And so, it’s better now to speak more plainly and more about my own motivations. For a long time, my intellectual work has involved looking for a respectful vocabulary or a language for the subjugated knowledge of slaves, prisoners, runaways, war deserters and other fugitives and troublemakers, most of whom are “archival conscripts” and have left few written records of their own making, or, if alive are difficult to meet with face to face. This subjugated knowledge speaks its own language and is, to quote Aimé Césaire, “born in the great silence of scientific knowledge.” This subjugated knowledge is necessarily fragmentary and requires a certain degree of invention to put into a writing that’s to be shared publicly: requires a method or a practice or a form that can carry the traces of the history that dismissed the knowledge in the first place forward towards something else, something outside of or extrinsic to the mode of production through which it appears to us precisely as marginalized and fugitive.

The question of writing and representation has always been paramount for me and still is. I’ve wanted to develop a writing practice that could make common cause with the people whose fate the writing chronicles; a writing practice that could acknowledge the mode of production of the writing itself; and a writing practice that could also animate that which has been lost, repressed, or trivialized. The question of what is the right form for a given story or project is a question I’ve felt has to be asked and answered anew with each, within the limits set by my abilities and resources and to some extent the audience for the work.

In this book, the writing is neither fiction nor traditional scholarly writing as we know it, although based in both. The book consists not of ordinary chapters, or of text with surrounding images as in a conventional artist’s book, but of annotated files, organized in 4 sections or collections. For those of you who haven’t read the book, I’d like to briefly describe the thematic core of the 4 sections to make it more concrete.

The first section is entitled the scandal of the qualitative difference and it takes its name from a phrase Herbert Marcuse used –“the qualitative difference”—to capture the nature of the deep systematic change he associated with liberation, what he called “the great refusal,” and with the development of “organs for the alternative.” The importance to the Archive of this idea of the “the qualitative difference” and Toni Cade Bambara’s abolitionist notion of “becoming unavailable for servitude” is clear throughout all the life of the archive. This section includes a little bit of background history on the archive itself, a set of reports, subsequently abandoned, on the concept of the utopian, and a lengthy correspondence and set of conversations with C, including a report she made at our behest around the time (2011) that over 1 million people occupied Tahir Square and its surrounding streets, a page of which you see here.

The second section takes its name -- a means of preparation -- from the description Cedric Robinson gave of the source of the Black Radical Tradition as he understood it.He wrote: “In the daily encounters and petty resistances to domination, slaves had acquired a sense of the calculus of oppression and its overt organization and instrumentation.These experiences lent themselves to a means of preparation for more epic resistance movements.” This collection elaborates on preparation as a name for the practical means by which intelligence and organization are collectively mobilized to avoid and abolish various forms of enslavement and enclosure. The thematic core is various instances of flight – from slavery, from capitalism, from war, from state repression--and the elaboration of the abolitionist imaginary. There are some reports for internal use, on soldier desertion for example, as well as the materials loaned by the Hawthorn Archive to the Museum of NonParticipation about the fugitive slave woman Eliza Winston, a deposit to the archive by artist Sarah Beddington of props and other things for her film The Logic of the Birds (I showed you the binoculars earlier), and a completely jumbled file about the brief period of Dutch colonization in northeastern Brazil under the Governorship of Johan Maurits van Nassau.

The third section is entitled the exile of our longing and comes from a phrase used by law Professor Patricia Williams to describe racial phantoms.It revisits some questions about haunting and futurity and the place still and moving images play in in the contexts which preoccupy the members of the Archive: the occupation of Palestine, colonialism, imprisonment, the war on terror, and refugees fleeing war. This collection presents a number of shorter fragmented items, several hurried replies to requests made to the archive for one thing or another, and two files that deal with psychiatric problems or problems caused by psychiatrists: one treating the effects of the occupation of Palestine as an instance of PTSD and the other on the invention and application of the Thematic Apperception Test (the personality test) in the US and in the Congo, images you see here. Also included is a discussion of how US prisoners “do time” and a special report written on Leon Czolgosz, (the young anarchist and steel worker who killed US President McKinley.

Finally, the fourth section takes it title -- perception of the subjectivity of the so-called object-- from a statement made by the curator Anselm Franke that accompanied his request to explain who Leon Czolgosz was (the young anarchist and steel worker who killed US President McKinley) and why Thomas Edison made a film about his execution by electrocution at Sing Sing prison in 1901. That statement read: “What happens if the term animism is no longer used as an ethnographic category, but is turned onto Western modernity itself? The concept then opens up a very different set of problems, at the core of which lies not subjectivity of perception but perception of the subjectivity of the so-called object.” This section includes a wide variety of items that focus on the subjugated knowledge of prisoners and those confined by the state, whether prisoners of war or so-called ordinary criminals or the range of people who were sent to the workhouses from the 16–19th centuries. It also includes a set of drawings deposited by Iranian artist and active Archive member, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, one of which you see here.

As you can see, the book itself mimes the archive format in its composition, organization and design. Why? The simplest answer to the question of why the book takes the form it does is because I was stepping down as the keeper of the archive and after some discussion we decided it would be useful to produce a selection of items for publication. The form of the book is self-evident in this context, although it gives an impression of the archive’s orderliness, which is an artifact of editing and thus misleading.

Outside of that context, the book’s form -- an assembly of letters, documents, images, file notes and so on -- reflects the form in which most archives exist. It was important to make the argument of the book through the infrastructure of an archive because it’s the fiction of the archive that’s the proper name of the project. On the one hand, it is clear throughout that the whole idea is impossible: the Hawthorn Archive is obviously neither complete nor well organized, nor could it be. The idea that the HA would be deliberately unfinished, obscure, fragmented and non-linear, with no directions or blueprints, to better reflect both the actual state of most archives and the nature of this one’s specific activities--what’s going on in the utopian margins-- was to presume a form can function as a literal representation of a concept and thus to reintroduce a positivism of perfection into the very process of trying to eliminate it.

On the other hand, when you’re in the book, you’re in the Archive. The book’s material assembly -- the layout, writing, images-- can’t be avoided. If you only want to read the argument or the point you still have to make your way through its mode of production, through the files and file notes, through the various modes of classification and framing, through the non- bureaucratic archivist language that is delivered with a wink and a nod. The book forces you to read it as an artifact, as the kind of thing that itself might be an item in an archive. This raises the question of what an archive that isn’t really an archive of the utopian margins actually is, but that’s the point of the book and you can’t get the answer without engaging with it.

The book’s archival form reflects a couple of other considerations worth mentioning. First, it is not a novel or a book of short stories or a book length poem. The novel form may very well haunt this book. So, too, the writing can be poetic in places.And, the book certainly traffics in fiction and fabulation -- one might even suggest that the Hawthorn Archive is a fiction, a fiction of a particular alternative civilization--and this distinguishes it from conventional archives, even radical or community ones. But it is adamantly not a work of fiction, like, for example, Raymond Williams’ two-volume People of the Black Mountains, which tells the story of a young man searching for his missing grandfather in the mountains who hears and recounts the voices of old ancestors, places, and historical battles for freedom, a novel deeply rooted in and designed to make visible a lost archive of Welsh radical history for a political present that needed it. Neither is it a work of fiction like Alexis Pauline Gumbs, The M Archive, a far more experimental and poetic work, also written with her political present in mind, in which a surviving researcher or “post-scientist,” as they’re called, is sorting artifacts “after the end of the world,” as if they were the only survivors.

In a book she’s writing now, Ann Cvetkovich helpfully distinguishes among archive, counterarchive, absent archive and recovered archive to broadly open up the possibilities for understanding the terms of engagement around the notion of archive or the archive and to register the complicated relationship between the archive as place and the archive as method and between the archive as technique of state power and archive as a means of reparation and transformation. The Hawthorn Archive as a project has parsed the difference between archive as method and archive as place in order to simultaneously1) keep the tension between fact and fiction operative and also playful,to, as Maryam Jafri put, “open up a fantastical space where imprecision, ambiguity and contradiction—the very things that the natural or social sciences avoid—come into play;”[2] 2) to be reflexive -- self-aware --about the mode of production of the knowledge I create; and 3) to show, rather than only tell, something about political consciousness in action now, where now -- the present -- is embedded in the nonlinear historiography and temporality of the utopian margins.

For me, writing about political consciousness in action in its present tense, regardless of whether it happened in the past or the future, means less my speculating, as the scholar on the outside, about what people we don’t have records for might have been thinking or feeling or saying to each other and more speculation narrated as conjunctural analysis from within a world, both real and fictional, in which I’m a participant. That is: how are folks mapping the socio-economic and geo-political coordinates of a present moment that emerged historically; how are they taking the measure of what its tendencies are -- where it might drift or be pushed; and how are they understanding and acting on the political possibilities and threats thrown up by a given moment of crisis. This is a different kind of speculation -- more ethnographic, dare I say -- that aims to narrate, to put it somewhat coldly, a consciousness in political culture as lived or to use Raymond Williams’s term, to narrate the structure of feeling of political consciousness in situ.

The Hawthorn Archive is a hospitable environment for thought, conversation, writing, invention, friendship, political conspiracy, and for things being other than they are. It’s really not an archive in any ordinary sense or as a project principally concerned with or about the archive as a place or as a mode of knowledge production. In its own world, that’s very clear. It has collections but much else or other, including a system of refuge. It’s something different than what we normally take an archive to be. In fact, many of us agree that it’s poorly named. And we are still trying to locate who, exactly, was responsible for adding the early 17th c word “archive” (archif) to what was more likely to have been, for the English speakers, the Hawthorn Recorder, as that term carried the old meaning of bringing to remembrance from the heart through memory and story. It’s also possible that Hawthorn was never meant to be a proper name as such, but was rather a direction or misdirection for a secret meeting -- by the hawthorn grove later tonight -- or a code word -- for an anti-enclosure campaign-- or ingredients for a recipe --two branches with adequate leaves and ripe berries -- for healing a broken heart or protecting the border to the world of the dead.

In any event, the Hawthorn Archive holds as dear a particular kind of evidence, not merely documents or material objects, but “evidence of a different way of being.” This is key. The utopian margins are a mode of living. In this sense, the archive apparatus—the letters and file notes and internal memos etc.—is a tool, one means for conveying a larger collectivity and a larger ongoing process bound by public and private relationships. It is a means for conveying an image of a community of intellectuals, artists, writers, and activists working and living in-difference, of not waiting for another world but of being already there. “Being there” is problematized in many ways in the book, including through the archive apparatus itself. The archive apparatus, then is, only an attempt, perhaps a poor one, to convey a sense of other occasions, of conversations and solidarities unfolding, unfinished, points and lines and relationships to be developed, going here and there, crossing worlds where we are, as James Baldwin used to say, better than what they think we are.

Thank you.

[1] For two sophisticated and eloquent elaborations of indigeneous refusal, see Glen Sean Couthard, Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. The University of Minnesota Press, 2014 and Audra Simpson, Mohawk Interruptus. Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States. Duke University press, 2014.

[2] “Through, Around, and Against the Document: Maryam Jafri in Conversation with Patricia Reed,” Art Papers Magazine, February 2009, p. 32. http://maryamjafri.net/press/ART%20PAPERS_Jafri.pdf