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The Politics of Legibility, Lateness, Liberation

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Organizer: Jorge Cartaya

Co-Organizer: Daimys Garcia

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Co-organized by Daimys Garcia (, Jorge Cartaya (, Ana Luszczynska (

This seminar explores the tension in registers of legibility and liberation. For example, there are many disputes among humanist, postcolonialist, decolonial scholars as to the viability of “the human” to survivant peoples as a heuristic for legibility of their histories and futurities. Similarly, debates in the environmental humanities abound concerning the term Anthropocene–inherited from natural scientists–and whether the prefix “anthropos” (Greek for “human”) can accurately represent the uneven material histories that gave rise to it. These terms have and continue to serve histories of enslavement, colonization, and extraction that enable the rise of industrialization and global capitalism as we understand it.

The bridge connecting these debates, we find, is the critical position of “lateness,” wherein scholars (of color, queer, disabled, working class, etc.) arrive at the scene after conversations have been had and the work seemingly done. Once the fields expand to include narratives of these “late” scholars, earlier interlocutors “move on” to ostensibly newer and “less exhausted” frameworks (for example, posthumanism, etc.). The reification of colonial violences as to who is represented continues. To make oneself legible within the strictures of these fields, then, is to negotiate with and participate in inherited logics, rubrics, and the congealed futures they calculated without accounting for your or other perspectives.

We resist legibility as defined solely by colonial logics while recognizing that legibility remains a condition of possibility for coalition-building and making kin across disciplines, places, and time. As scholars and activists, how, then, are we to negotiate this tension?

We welcome 300 word abstracts that use literary, philosophical, cultural material–and their obvious intersections–to grapple with topics like:

  • Representation and untenability within the human and anthropocene

  • Reasons, advantages, disadvantages to accepting or rejecting the human/anthropocene/etc.

  • Certain literatures as generative spaces to imagine futures within these tensions

  • Epistemological, ontological, historical, political, and ethical threads of representation and their bearing on our current political moment 

  • Foreclosure of possibilities for new work in fields that have fallen out of fashion.

  • Decolonial studies, Postcolonial studies, Anticolonial studies

  • Area Studies (Black Studies, Indigenous studies, Queer of Color Critique, etc.)

  • Possibilities for interdisciplinary and inter-community coalition-building

  • Extralinguistic modes of communication (body language, touch, sound, etc.)

If this call resonates, yet you do not see your fields/works/struggles represented, please apply. 

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