Many Thousands Still Coming: Theorizing Black Diasporic Identities in a Moment of Agency, Diversity & Inclusion


Date: March 19, 2015

Time: 5:00PM-6:30PM

Location: 652 Barrows

Book Signing and Reception

Time: 7:00PM-8:00PM

Location: University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704


Twenty years ago Paul Gilroy’s landmark book The Black Atlantic encouraged scholars of the African and Black diasporas to imagine Blackness as a unified yet diverse unit, embracing difference even as it moved forward with a singular aim for agency and equality in the world.  Today we enjoy a proliferation of scholarly studies on a broad range of Black and Black African collectives across the Diaspora. At the same time, Black women, Black queers and Black communities and individuals who are not directly interpellated through an epistemology of the Middle Passage remain exceptions to the rule—despite the fact that they outnumber “traditional” Black diasporic identities.

In this talk, Michelle M. Wright argues that our use of “Newtonian” spacetime in Black Diaspora studies unintentionally creates this marginalization. By revealing how most ideations about time and space in physics are being refashioned and reformulated through contemporary conceptual explorations of Blackness in the academy, including afro-futurism and afro-pessimism, Wright maps out a “physics of Blackness” in which agency, diversity and inclusion are the norm rather the exception.

Michelle M. Wright is an associate professor of Black European and African Diaspora studies in the Department of African American Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She is the author of Becoming Black: Creating Identity in the African Diasporaand, with Tina Campt, co-editor of Reading the Black German Experience, a special issue of Callaloo. This talk is based on her latest book, Physics of Blackness: Beyond the Middle Passage Epistemology (University of Minnesota Press, 2015).