Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 24, 2016 - 6:34pm
CFA: Black Matters - Graduate Journal for the Study of Culture
Diffractions - Graduate Journal for the Study of Culture
Deadline for articles: May 30 2016
I am a blackstar, the statement by David Bowie (1947-2016) in his latest and ultimate album, which bids farewell to one of the greatest performers of our time, lends itself as a pretext to pay tribute to his legacy and to herald the aim of this issue to address the productivity of black - as colour, word and idea - within the cultural. In Blackstar, Bowie couples the dark imagery of a burial with a celebratory resonance which suggests the ambiguous significance of black across cultures, times and languages. Reestablished by artists in the exhibition Black is a colour, held in Paris in 1946, after its exclusion from the realm of colours following Newton’s scientific analysis of the visible spectrum, black has been continuously acknowledged as a central category in cultural discourse. Within the complex relationship between colours, black has always spawned a wide range of social meanings. This singularity within the chromatic spectrum calls for a reflection that crosses different concerns, from race to aesthetics, the politics of visibility and the manifold dimensions of cultural production. From black books to black clothes and black paintings, from black flags to black days, from black holes to black carbon and black boxes, black reflects the plurality of cultural artefacts, events and issues, social codes and political subjectivities, thus conveying the complexity of contemporary culture this issue aims to engage with.
For instance, its currency within debates about race is in many ways tied with the emergence of post-colonial discourses and their revision of modernity’s legacies. Nicholas Mirzoeff (2016) has recently referred to the “geological color line” to address the implications of racialization within the context of the Anthropocene, of that which comes to matter as human life. Black also informs the notion of “necropolitics” (Mbembe, 2003), a form of biopolitical governmentality in which the technologies of control through which life is managed increasingly coexist with technologies of destruction. Black also saturates the imagination of petrocapitalism and “oil cultures”, informing visions of both abundance and environmental disaster (Barrett, Worden, and Stoekl, 2014). Furthermore, its instantiations in popular and visual culture, such as the phenomena around black cool (Walker, 2012) or “the trouble with post-blackness” (Baker and Simons, 2015), articulate the theoretical, artistic and mediatic perspectives that both struggle and deal with the symbolic meaning(s) of blackness. As Michelle M. Wright argues, “the myriad ways in which blackness is sold is dizzying”, insofar as it works as a social, cultural and political currency that “helps to sell jazz, pop, hip hop, a variety of professional sports, Barack Obama […]” (Wright, 2015: 1). Black is also a signifier of invisibility, of erasure from the visual field (as in “black ops”), but also of hyper-visibility, of that which is othered, queered, and made visible through negative lenses. On the other hand, black can emerge as a provocative difference, a productive irritation to (white) normativity, and as a driver of critical approaches to knowledge production, as the creolization of theory advocated by Lionnet and Shih (2011). The idea of black has also been recurrent in artistic production, serving as label to distinguish genres and categories, such as Black Metal and noir aesthetics. The very proliferation of genres such as neo-noir seems to suggest the persistence and renewal of black aesthetic codes across time, proving the continued relevance of black to address the present.
At a global moment shaped by a wide array of exchanges across cultures, how does black sustain its singularity among colours? Has black (and blackness) gained (or lost) ground in theoretical discourse and cultural production? Does black (still) matter?
Black across languages and cultures
Black in visual arts, music and literature
Black and blackness in popular culture
(post-)Blackness, race and the politics of representation
Race, necropolitics and the Anthropocene
Black lives, (social) media and cultural mourning
Oil cultures, extraction and capitalism
Noir and neo-noir aesthetics
Gender and intersectionality
Dark mythologies and narratives across times
The cultural imaginary of string theory
Black flags, black books and black days
Black in ritual cultures and social codes (mourning, dress codes, etc.)
Black boxing, visibility and surveillance.
We look forward to receiving full articles of no more than 7000 words (not including bibliography) by May 30 2016.
Diffractions welcomes articles in English, Portuguese and Spanish.
Please follow the journal’s house style and submission guidelines at http://www.diffractions.net/submission-guidelines.