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A Conversation on Sentient Flesh: Thinking in Disorder, Poiesis in Black, with Author R.A. Judy and Dr. Biko Mandela Gray

Mark your calendars! On Monday, November 23 at 6pm EST (Eastern Standard Time), the Network will host a conversation via Zoom between Professors R.A. Judy (University of Pittsburgh) and Biko Mandela Gray (Syracuse University), on Dr. Judy’s highly-anticipated new monograph Sentient Flesh: Thinking in Disorder, Poiesis in Black. Please find the zoom link to the discussion here:

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We look forward to seeing you there! For questions, please email danube_johnson@g.harvard.edu.

“In Sentient Flesh R. A. Judy takes up freedman Tom Windham’s 1937 remark “we should have our liberty ’cause . . . us is human flesh” as a point of departure for an extended meditation on questions of the human, epistemology, and the historical ways in which the black being is understood. Drawing on numerous fields, from literary theory and musicology, to political theory and phenomenology, as well as Greek and Arabic philosophy, Judy engages literary texts and performative practices such as music and dance that express knowledge and conceptions of humanity appositional to those grounding modern racialized capitalism. Operating as critiques of Western humanism, these practices and modes of being-in-the-world—which he theorizes as “thinking in disorder,” or “poiēsis in black”—foreground the irreducible concomitance of flesh, thinking, and personhood. As Judy demonstrates, recognizing this concomitance is central to finding a way past the destructive force of ontology that still holds us in thrall. Erudite and capacious, Sentient Flesh offers a major intervention in the black study of life.”

R.A.  Judy is Professor of Critical and Cultural Studies in the Department of English at the University of Pittsburgh, and a member of the boundary 2 Editorial Collective. He authored the ground-breaking book, (Dis)forming the American Canon: The Vernacular of African Arabic American Slave Narrative (1992). His published scholarship spans multiple fields from Arabic literature and Islamicate thought to Critical Race Theory and Black Studies. Among some of his more prominent publications are: “Restless Flying from Tunisia to Haiti, A Black study of Revolutionary Humanism,” “The Question of Nigga Authenticity,” “Kant and the Negro,” “Sayyid Qutb’s fiqh al- wāqi‘ī, or New Realist Science,” “Some Thoughts on Naguib Mahfouz in the Spirit of Secular Criticism.” and “Fanon’s Body of Black Experience.” Among the important volumes of boundary 2 he has edited are The Tunisia Dossier (2012), and Sociology Hesitant: W. E. B. Du Bois’s Dynamic Thinking. He is recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including two Mellon Scholar fellowships, a Ford Foundation Minority Fellowship, and a Fulbright Scholars Fellowship to Tunisia. His latest book is Sentient Flesh (Thinking in Disorder/Poiēsis in Black) published by Duke University Press in 2020.

Dr. Gray’s work operates at the nexus and interplay between continental philosophy of religion and theories and methods in African American religion. His research is primarily on the connection between race, subjectivity, religion, and embodiment, exploring how these four categories play on one another in the concrete space of human experience. He also is interested in the religious implications of social justice movements. He is currently working on a book project that explores how contemporary racial justice movements, like Blacklivesmatter, demonstrate new ways of theorizing the connection between embodiment, religion, and subjectivity.

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