Zakiyyah Iman Jackson
On Race, Species and Becoming Human
A Series of More-Than-Human Encounters #4. To highlight the International Day Against Racism, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson takes the floor to share her innovative thinking on the intricate relations between race, species and the idea of ‘the human’. In her thought-provoking book Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World, she scrutinizes key African American, African and Caribbean cultural texts. She argues they generate conceptions of ‘being’ that disrupt the human-animal distinction that persistently reproduces the racial logics and orders of Western thought. Unlike most black studies scholars, Jackson questions the emancipatory promise of ‘humanization’. Instead, she turns to texts by leading scholars and writers like Sylvia Wynter, Audre Lorde, Octavia Butler and others. She uses their work to drive a new understanding of being that neither relies on animal abjection to define the human, nor reestablishes the need to be recognized as ‘proper human’ within liberal humanism as an antidote to racialization.
20:00 Introduction by Tundé Adefioye
20:10 Zakiyyah Iman Jackson: Architectures of the Flesh
20:40 Q&A with the Zoom-audience, moderated by Tundé Adefioye
21:10 Closing words by Tundé Adefioye
• Zakiyyah Iman Jackson is an assistant professor of English at the University of Southern California. Her research explores the literary and figurative aspects of Western philosophical and scientific discourse and investigates the engagement of African diasporic literature and visual culture with the historical concerns, knowledge claims, and rhetoric of Western science and philosophy. Jackson obtained her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.
• Tundé Adefioye is a performing arts dramaturg and teacher. He is a Nigerian-American based in Belgium. He co-founded the youth platform Urban Woorden in Leuven and was awarded the Prize for Cultural Education by the Flemish Government. From 2016 to 2020 he worked as city-dramaturg for KVS. In 2020 he was co-editor of the VUB Poincaré book Migration, Equality & Racism.
• Mathieu Charles is a writer and theatre maker. He is also active as an organiser, dramaturge, workshop leader and process supervisor in the cultural sector (with a focus on diversity, decolonisation and intersectionality). His interests are in image and discourse analysis, pluriversal decolonisation and research on cultural archives.
• Mariska Jung is a PhD candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium. She is based at the Department for Political Sciences and affiliated with RHEA, the university’s research centre on gender, diversity and intersectionality. In addition, she is a member of the Race-Religion Constellation research hub at Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
A Series of More-Than-Human Encounters is a presentation by VUB Crosstalks & Kaaitheater | curated by Kaaitheater and VUB Crosstalks in dialogue with Olave Nduwanje, Mathieu Charles, Mariska Jung, David Weber-Krebs and Geertrui Cazaux.