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Decolonial Research Collaborative Annual Lecture: Thinking with Riotous Deathscapes

Image of a rural landscape, titled Mpondoland
Public lectures

Join us on Wednesday 28 June 2023 for the Decolonial Research Collaborative Annual Lecture.

Author and keynote speaker Hugo ka Canham will lead a conversation about vernacular Black theorisation and an exploration of how we might tune into ancestral frequencies.

Event details

Join us for a conversation about vernacular black theorisation and an exploration of how we might tune into ancestral frequencies.

Through an engagement with a recently published book, the author, Hugo ka Canham invites attendees to tune into what he characterises as deathscapes — zones of abandonment where black people are overrepresented among the dead. In this context, to tune into ancestral frequencies is to attend to the ways the dead vibrate to maintain a sociality with the living.

He illustrates that by attending to the gravesites of the dead, we can tune into what they tell us about the black genocidal hauntings that stick to the deathscape. He asks what haptic registers are stirred by attending to the vibrations that sweep the length of the deathscapes? He contends that since frequency is about attuning to vibrations, it points us towards meeting places and confluences rather than tracing calibrations of pathways, origins, and theoretical boxes.

What do we learn from attending to the quiet sounds instead of the loud bangs? If overdetermined dyings and debilitation are racialised black, what black frequential energy emits from the deathscape?

In working through these questions, he invites readers and participants to imagine blackness as a register of motion, opacity, relation, and as a practice of refusing enclosure. In this reading, blackness is boundless even in death. Living in relation to the dead teaches us that death cannot interdict black relation and sociality.

Suggested pre-reading

To ponder these questions, participants are invited to read the introduction to Riotous Deathscapes.

In addition, while not absolutely necessary, reading chapter four of the book will enable a more productive engagement on the deathly dimensions of the discussion. Hugo will open with remarks for 10-15 minutes after which we are all invited to engage in dialogue with these ideas.

This engagement should appeal to readers of African studies, black studies, and those with decolonial commitments and interests in African epistemologies.

Keynote speaker: Hugo ka Canham

Hugo ka Canham is a writer, author of Riotous Deathscapes (Duke University Press, 2023), and a Professor at the Institute for Social and Health Sciences, University of South Africa.

Headshot of Hugo ka Canham, author of Riotous Deathscapes

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