This is a response to the post regarding what this blog might offer and discuss. I'm uncomfortable with positioning (or labeling of a "style" of thought) the "afro-pessimist" (or any scholar) as one who is intellectually rejected by the university because of her thinking. Most of the scholars who might be called "afro-pessimists" (I have yet to find a place where any scholars identified by others as "afro-pessimists" call themselves "afro-pessimists" or believers in "afro-pessimism") are doing quite well in the university, publishing, sharing and arguing with colleagues as folks usually do in the academy.
This is not the '60s where there needs to be a revolt because the "thoughts" of afro-pessimism are dis-allowed in the university. There are far more issues around race, sexuality, gender, and capital to go after in the university: the privatization of public space; the neoliberalization of departments. e.g., audits, separate department budgets for pencils, copying, and the rental of classroom space from the university in which departments reside.
Lastly, how can thoughts not be thought (taken from the quotation below in this blog's first post: "thoughts that cannot be thought.")? Which thoughts can't be thought? Whose thoughts can't be thought? I know that when my daughter mumbles under her breath, she is under the illusion that I can't hear her--that she is in her own private Idaho where she may curse me out into the abyss. She has inferred that she may not think her own thoughts about Mamí and Papí, but obviously she knows this not to be true because her mumbles of defiance speak for themselves . . . she mumbles away anyway calling me a "b-ch" in her own 8-year old language. Or, who knows, quite possibly she's doing so in our adult language.
All of this is to say that I hear here a need for some sort of "rights" movement: the right to think thoughts, for example. I hear here a need for positioning, location, a normative "home" within the university. And, this is just what ethnic studies departments didn't problematize when they initially made the "fight"--they succumbed to the fallacy that the university could provide a home--and it did, a home just like the university's--and they became, in many ways, like the university and its disciplines. Because of the times and because of the ways in which power works, perhaps they desired normativity (and the normative space of the university) more than they desired freedom--freedom also being a constructed notion. So what did they want? See Roderick Ferguson's new work on this, which is forthcoming in his new book The Affirmative Actions of Power.
Afro-pessimists have not been shorn off from the university. They are not a desperate group or cause to be argued for. In fact, I think people like Hartman, James, Spillers et al would want to be known as thinking people not people in need of permission to think and speak. Maybe they want to be known as people who are arguing against the terrain that claims theoretical spaces and names them without naming a historical violence. E.g., the way in which the US claimed British cultural studies and created departments and anthologies around it (see Stuart Hall's "Cultural Studies & Its Theoretical Legacies").
Do the so-called afro-pessimists desire to be a theory-group of their own or would they prefer challenging us all to think different kinds of thoughts and to consider seemingly twisted kinds of societal and cultural problematizations. I thought they were (and there's that label of "they" again, as if they were a group) reacting against traditional cultural theory? And PS, is it even for us to decide?