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Working at Aliveness


The Black Feminist Echo Lab is a collective of University of Utah faculty, staff and graduate students focused on ecological integrity using a Black feminist lens to work toward ways in which all living beings (particularly those most susceptible to oppression and death in these times of pandemics and environmental destruction) can exist in relationships of care, love and joy. We live and work in a city that is suffering from severe drought and experiencing the loss of habitat from the shrinking Salt Lake. We are particularly interested in how, in the age of the Anthropocene, human and non-human beings that have been historically valued for what they can provide within a capitalist society—labor and natural resources—are striving to stay alive, and more than that, embrace aliveness.

Our goal is to produce a rich, vibrant scholarship and praxis which brings together a community of intellectuals, advocates, artists, activists, learners, and practitioners to create a new paradigm of what a thriving, inclusive ecosystem operating on the fluid theoretical frameworks for Black feminism can embody. To achieve this goal, we have developed a Black Feminist Aliveness Model (BFAM) which uses Black feminist and ecological theorizing, involves the biotics and abiotics within our ecosystems, and centers an ethics of care. We envision this model as the methodological grounding for our 2024 Working at Aliveness workshop.

Workshop Information

  • Day I (June 10th) - Convening & Grounding Aliveness

    • 4:35pm   Pick up from hotel
    • 4:55pm   Arrive at Nature Center
    • 5:00pm   Welcome & remarks
    • 5:20pm   Reception, Jordan Nature Center
    • 8:30pm   Close

    Day II (June 11th) - Imagining Aliveness, full workshop day - S. J. Quinney College of Law

    • 8:40am      Pick up from hotel
    • 9:00am      Arrive at law school & breakfast
    • 10:00am    Icebreakers
    • 10:15am    Introduction to the Black Feminist Eco Lab
    • 10:30am    Processes and purpose
    • 11:00am    Break out groups
    • 12:30pm    Lunch
    • 1:30pm      Share out
    • 2:30pm      Exercise
    • 3:30pm      Closing announcements
    • 4:00pm      Close

    Day III (June 12th) - Celebrating Aliveness, Antelope island & The Shop)

    • 9:10am      Pick up from hotel
    • 10:00am    Arrive at Antelope Island for guided tour
    • 12:00pm    Return to hotel & on your own
    • 5:45pm      Pick up from hotel
    • 6:00pm      Mingle & dinner
    • 6:30pm      Book launch & signing
    • 7:30pm      Reflecting on working at Aliveness
    • 8:00pm      Open mic (come ready to read your own or your favorite Black feminist poet’s poetry)
    • 9:00pm      Roof top mix & mingle
  • Black feminism is and can be many things to many people.  In this space, we hold space for Black feminism as plural—as Black feminism(s), springing from the local, global, diasporic, and transnational; as praxis, as in always in relation to both conditions of production and conditions of living; as epistemological, i.e., world building and world studying; as historical and historicizing; as comprising and acknowledging many genders and the constructedness of blackness; as a fugitive analytic; as “both/and,” that is, as powerfully paratactic.

    To echo Nash’s (2019) thesis, Black Feminisms is and has always been an anticaptivity project.  Therefore, we hold no intention of prioritizing one identification with Black Feminist epistemology  over any other.  Instead, we invoke Black Feminisms’ power to call in the many and, yet, to think in “Oneness” (Quashie, 2021).  Critically aware of our current political and ecological circumstances and all that they imply for our collective wellbeing, we wish to dream through the lens of Black Feminisms grounded on the premise of “aliveness” rather than racial violence, antiblackness, and social death.  We are indebted to a host of scholars (McKittrick, 2020, 2022; Quashie, 2021; Kelly, 2002; King et. al, 2020; Pough et. al, 2007; Campt, 2017; and more) for orienting us to the beyond, the otherwise, the within, and the underside necessary to forging new worlds and spaces for us to thrive.  We urge theories of Black Feminisms that begin and end in analytics based on how we live (McKittrick, 2011) and how we get free (Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, 2017).

    We uphold that Black feminisms has always been alive, always been here.  Standing and crossing.  Carrying the yoke and slipping it.  As rooted as the baobab and as dispersed as the dandelion.  How we theorize our being, doing, and mattering is, from the quotidian rhythm of a mother pounding yam to the intricate codes in a freedom quilt to a 13 year old black girl solving an equation to ** , simply how we do it.

    We invite you to define and share Black Feminisms as you see it/them.  And our pledge for this inaugural workshop is to hold space and change as we evolve together.  Let’s agree:

    • To be intentional about the way we define and practice Black Feminisms
    • To trouble our shared frameworks in order to explore how we might invoke acts of post-apocalyptic worldmaking now
    • To practice kinship through shared acts of love, beyond phenotype and physiology
    • To bring our whole selves in our full embodiment to this place

    References

    Campt, T. 2017 Listening to Images Durham : Duke University Press

    Kelley, R.D.G. 2002. Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination. Boston : Beacon Press

    King, T. ; Navarro, J., and Smith, A. 2020 Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness London: Duke University Press

    McKittrick, K. 2011 “On Plantations, Prisons and a Black Sense of Place.” Social and Cultural Geography, 12:8, 947 – 963.

    --2022. “Dear April: The Aesthetics of Black Miscellanea.” Antipode published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Antipode Foundation Ltd. Volume54, Issue1

    Nash, J.  2019. Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality.  Durham : Duke University Press

    Pough, G., Neal, M.A.; M. J. 2007 Home Girls Make Some Noise: Hip-Hop Feminism Anthology Mira Loma, Calif. : Parker Publishing, LLC

    Quashie, K. 2021. Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being Durham: Duke University Press

    Taylor, K.,  2017 How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective.  Chicago, Illinois : Haymarket Books

  • Land acknowledgement

    We acknowledge the land where this workshop will be held, which is named for the Ute Tribe, is the traditional and ancestral homeland of the Goshute, Paiute, Soshone, and Ute Tribes. The land where we will gather has long served as a site of gathering and exchange for Native and Indigenous Peoples. We recognize the long history and enduring connections they have to their traditional homelands. We also recognize tribal sovereignty, the right for Indigenous Peoples to govern themselves and hold distinct governments that hold the same authority as federal and state governments.

    Participants and organizers of this workshop come from various parts of this settler-state, where the land they currently reside is also currently occupied land, stolen from Indigenous People, the original stewards of the land.

     

    Labor acknowledgement

    We also take a moment to acknowledge the labor upon which this settler-state and institutions are built.

    We must remember the United States is a country built on the forced labor of enslaved people kidnapped from their homelands in the continent of Africa, and indigenous populations forced to build a settler empire waged on their genocide.

    We also acknowledge all the labor of immigrants, including voluntary, involuntary, trafficked, forced, and undocumented peoples who contributed to the creation of this country, state, and institutions and continue to serve within our labor force. We also acknowledge all unpaid care-giving labor that is specific to the Black Feminist ways of knowing and being centered in this shared space.

Participants

Andrea N. Baldwin
Andrea N. Baldwin
she/her
Kaye L. Batson
Kaye L. Batson
she/her
Chelsea N. Bouldin
Chelsea N. Bouldin
she/her
Nana Afua Y. Brantuo
Nana Afua Y. Brantuo
she/her
Adrienne Cachelin
Adrienne Cachelin
she/her
Pamela Cappas-Toro
Pamela Cappas-Toro
she/ella/ela
Cydney Caradonna
Cydney Caradonna
she/her/ella
Lysanne Charles
Lysanne Charles
she/her
Ashley Cleveland
Ashley Cleveland
she/her
Jaimie Crumley
Jaimie Crumley
she/her
AlLisia Dawkins
AlLisia Dawkins
she/her
Rae Duckworth
Rae Duckworth
she/her, they/them
Hannah Goins
Hannah Goins
they/them
Logan Gomez
Logan Gomez
they/them
Tonya Haynes
Tonya Haynes
she/her
Kiru Herring
Kiru Herring
she/her, they/them
Shalonda Ingram
Shalonda Ingram
s:he
Chantel Kemp
Chantel Kemp
she/her
Vivian Lee
Vivian Lee
she/her
Charlen
Charlen "Cha" McNeil-Wade
she/her, they/them
Ocqua Gerlyn Murrell
Ocqua Gerlyn Murrell
she/her, they/them
Ruhan Nagra
Ruhan Nagra
she/her
Jamera NaQuai
Jamera NaQuai
she/her
Jocelyn Navarro
Jocelyn Navarro
she/her
Shaandiin Powell
Shaandiin Powell
she/her
Rosa Pimentel
Rosa Pimentel
she/her, they/them
Leah Ramnath
Leah Ramnath
she/her
Juliet Reynolds
Juliet Reynolds
she/her
Adena Rivera-Dundas
Adena Rivera-Dundas
she/her
Crystal S. Rudds
Crystal S. Rudds
she/her
Jervette R. Ward
Jervette R. Ward
she/her
Myra S. Washington III
Myra S. Washington III
all
Kimberly Williams
Kimberly Williams
she/her

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