In all kinds of weather, the ships came and went, in each other’s wake, from Portugal and other European countries to Africa and then to America, on the transatlantic slave route. Five hundred years of voyages of theft, pillage, and bondage. Today ships set sail from Zlitene and Tripoli, overcrowded with migrants, and often sink before reaching the European coast.
The writer and York University Professor, Christina Sharpe, will draw from her book, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, to discuss the artistic, visual and everyday representations of black life. Sharpe has developed a seminal work, using a “black cultural archive” to position the concept of blackness at the centre of contemporary theory. Using multiple meanings of the word, 'wake' – the path behind a ship, keeping watch with the dead, coming to consciousness – Sharpe outlines what survives, despite persistent violence and negation. The conversation will be moderated by the sociologist and researcher Cristina Roldão. In this "weather", that pursues contemporary black life in the diaspora, breathing is cut – literally and metaphorically. In Frantz Fanon’s words, "we revolt simply because we can no longer breathe." It is urgent to look at our history (and the present day situation) with another gaze – an ethics of seeing filled with care and solidarity against the violence of abstraction. Based on this perspective and formulating places of artistic production, resistance, consciousness, and possibility for living in diaspora, Christina Sharpe offers a way forward