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epistemologies of brown/ness(es): racialization, sexuality, and empires

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Organizer: Neelofer Qadir

Co-Organizer: Naveen Minai

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Feeling brown, being down. Feeling down, being brown. As we understand it, brown indexes operations of law, affect, sexuality, relation, empire(s), capital. Brown can function as an accusation or a convenience. Brown can name shades and fantasy. This proposed seminar considers when brown as an analytic becomes useful and may be used to do the work of relation, inquiry, theory—and when brown does not work.

We are catalyzed by scholarship that foregrounds analyses of race and racialization to shift the axes of these debates away from global north articulations (Macharia 2013, Chen 2010), breaking the historic partition of areas such as Latin American Studies and Asian Studies (Arondekar and Patel 2016, Kim 2017, Kantor 2018). Building on such work, we invite proposals that turn towards sites, relations, and geohistories imagined through terms such as (but not limited to) Indigenous, Afro-Asia, Asian- and/or African Latin America, Indian Ocean, Global Asias, Inter-Asia, and more. We ask how brown/ness(es) are plural and heterogeneous; we query how they are mapped and weighted by different cartographic modes, for example, the Levant, Latin America, Africa, and archipelagos across Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans.

We invite critical perspectives from scholars working in and across multiple languages, disciplines, and genres to consider race and ethnicity as co-constitutive logics and forms of difference. How do these logics form, transform, transfer, congeal across geohistories? Papers might explore how brown/ness(es) are shaped by multiple empires and their legacies, including but not limited to the Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal, Russian, Qing empires (alongside more commonly studied Euro-American empires). We ask after brown, black, yellow, red, and white (and bright) as codes for difference, as metaphors of color made to matter through the matter of different bodies. We encourage reflection on how race, religion, ethnicity, and caste overlap and congeal into one another, troubling normative vocabularies of difference and relation. Ultimately, we are interested in scholars who understand brown/ness(es) as heavy with contradictions, confusions, and frictions.

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