Coffee Hour with Bedour Alagraa

Bedour Alagraa
Event Date & Time
| -
Event Location
445 Blegen Hall

269 19th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Enjoy a free catered lunch, a presentation by Bedour Alagraa with the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and conversation with students, staff, and faculty from the GES Department. Lunch will be available starting at 12:30 p.m. and Bedour Alagraa will present from 1-2 p.m. Those joining us for lunch must pre-register. Please RSVP using the event registration link above by the end of the day on Monday, April 8th. 

In this talk, Dr. A will offer some insights from her manuscript, The Interminable Catastrophe, to examine how cruel mathematics, fatal liberalisms, and the terror of sovereign power were made ‘new again’, and embedded in everyday life under plantocratic rule and in modern day ecological crises. In this excerpt, she focuses on colonial and postcolonial Louisiana - understood as ‘unlike’ its neighbors and a ‘place apart’ - with attention to the Code Noir, plantation economic life, and the French Crown’s appetite for terror via the authoritarian impulses of Bourbonism(s), to discern how plantation life was the site of transformation in our nomos of the earth, turning Western episteme’s discourse(s) and attention away from ‘calamity’ to catastrophe proper. Dr. Alagraa threads these considerations through the ‘X-code’ or ‘Katrina crosses’, used by search and rescue teams to mark the homes of residents following the Storm, as well as the Kongo cosmogram (also known as a carrefour/kafou) in order to consider how, in the United States, Louisiana represents the crucial intercept of this constellation of mechanisms that constitute catastrophe, and, therefore, a crucial node for articulating the very beginning of the processes which have burdened our planetary assumptions. In other words: ‘x’ marks the spot.

Dr. Bedour Alagraa is Assistant Professor of Political and Social Thought in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. A self-described ‘wayward political theorist’, she received her Ph.D. from the Department of Africana Studies at Brown University in the Spring of 2019, where she was an Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellow. She also holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and a Masters in Race, Ethnicity, and Post-Colonial Studies from the London School of Economics. Dr. Alagraa is interested in Black radical genealogies in political theory, history/ies of political concepts, Caribbean thought, African anti-colonial thought, and Black Marxism(s) (among other topics). She has also studied and written extensively on the works of Jamaican writer Sylvia Wynter; she recently completed the archiving of Wynter’s papers alongside a group of 5 other scholars, and is also a member of the editorial team currently editing Wynter’s monograph, Black Metamorphosis. Dr. Alagraa is also the co-editor of a volume of Chairman Fred Hampton’s Speeches alongside Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., titled I Am a Revolutionary!: Speeches by Chairman Fred Hampton, forthcoming from Pluto Press in early 2023. Her book manuscript is entitled The Interminable Catastrophe (forthcoming from Duke University Press), and charts a conceptual history of catastrophe as a political category/concept (rather than Event), via its inauguration in early modern natural science and empiricist debates, and subsequent crystallization as a concept on the plantation. The Interminable Catastrophe also considers how we might interrupt the 'Bad Infinity' of the catastrophic, via the work(s) of Sylvia Wynter, Kamau Brathwaite, Clyde Woods, Derek Walcott, and others. Dr. Alagraa has been published in several journals, including Critical Ethnic Studies, Contemporary Political Theory, The CLR James Journal of Caribbean Philosophy, Small Axe, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, Political Theory, and others. She is currently co-editor, alongside Anthony Bogues, of the ‘Black Critique’ book series at Pluto Press.

Share on: