Black States of Desire: Dispossession, Circulation, Transformation

« If we – and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others  – do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world. »
(James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, 1963)

« a call to action, a call to consciousness. »
(Assotto Saint, Spells of Voodoo Doll, 1996)

Bridging the 2009 Conference in Bremen on black epistemologies and struggles, and the 2013 Conference in Atlanta, the 9th International Conference of the Collegium for African American Research will be held in Paris in 2011. Placing the emphasis on the conditions of social transformation in the black world, it will articulate two main axes of analysis and reflection: the intersection of a socioeconomic approach with a multicultural and identity-focused perspective; the relation between theorizing processes and material transformation, between intellectual activity and political action, and between different communities with specific agendas.

The conference will highlight the recognition of the central historical contribution of black feminist studies and movements, notably lesbian, in the American and South African contexts. In both their sought-after inclusiveness and productive failures they are exemplary of individual change and collective reformation. This goal, once pursued by Audre Lorde and James Baldwin, and still to be reached, is here emblematized by the figures of desire and the black states. In the wake of Lorde’s esthetical and political alliance of the self and the community, of Baldwin’s desiring consciousness and ethics of inclusion, desire and the black states ae together rich with conscious revolutions to come. They work as immaterial and physical orientations, symbols of shifting identifications, of the diversity of black lived experiences. The black states of desire therefore set out to describe lack turned into impetus and actualization, the movement from what exists to what can be imagined and created, from words to the building stone, from statement to establishment.


April 6, 2011
Geneviève Fabre (Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7, France):
"Sense and Sensibility in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy"

April 7, 2011
Cathy J. Cohen (University of Chicago, USA):
"Rebirthing the Nation: the Transformational and Transnational Politics of Black Desire"

April 8, 2011
Lewis R. Gordon (Temple University, USA):
« Quand je suis là, elle n’y est pas » : On the Monstrous Threat of Reasoned Black Desire

April 9, 2011
Sabine Broeck (Bremen University, Germany):
"Abolish Property: the Epistemic Challenge of Black Feminist Desire"

Jean-Paul Rocchi
Jean-Paul Rocchi
Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7
CAAR Executive Board
Principal organizer