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Anarcho-Blackness

Anarcho-Blackness

Notes toward a black anarchism, Marquis Bey, AK 2020

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“The history of Blackness is a history of disruption toward freedom.”

In this bold and expansive treatise, Marquis Bey seeks to define the shape of a Black anarchism—not, he says, by listing “all the Black people who are anarchists and the anarchists who are Black people,” but though a fluid and generative encounter between anarchism and Blackness.

Classical anarchism tended to avoid questions of race—specifically Blackness—as well as the intersections of race and gender. Skeptical of satisfying himself with the usual finger-pointing this lack invites, Bey addresses it head on, not by constructing a new cannon of Black anarchists but by outlining how anarchism and Blackness already share a certain subjective relationship to power, a way of understanding and inhabiting the world. Through the lens of a Black feminist and transgender theory that unsettles and subverts social hierarchies, he explores what we can learn by making the kinship of Blackness and anarchism explicit, including how anarchism itself is transformed by the encounter.

As Bey frames it, if the state is predicated on a racialised and gendered capitalism, its undoing can only be imagined and undertaken by a political theory that takes race and gender seriously, a theory of anarcho-Blackness.

Marquis Bey is Assistant Professor of African American Literature and English at Northwestern University.

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