AFR 396
Relationality and Its Antagonisms Spring 2025
Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed AMST 428 / WGSS 428

Class Details

Relationality has been the defining approach, feature, and framework of ethnic studies since its inception in the late 1960s. Since then, notable scholars have applied multiple keywords, including difference, comparison, entanglements, cacophonies, and intimacies, to emphasize how processes of racialization and racial formation are not isolated and separate but inextricably linked and shaped by one another. Only from these distinct, uneven, yet shared positions of oppression, as scholars argue, solidarity across race, gender, class, sexuality, and location may emerge. At its crux, this seminar will underscore major tensions and antagonisms against frameworks of relationality. Tracing primary sources, cultural expressions, and literature within the traditions of ethnic studies and transnational/women of color feminisms, it will trace the shifts in approaches to relationality, especially as it relates to practices of reciprocity and community-building across difference. At the same time, it will turn to works that name relationality as what Frank B. Wilderson calls a “ruse,” or trick, that subsumes the specific, exceptional position of blackness. Our units will include discussions of Afro-Pessimism, indigeneity, racialized settler colonialism as well as queer theory debates on queer presentism (i.e., a queer “no future”) versus queer futurity. Studying the tensions that emerge from multiple, distinct, and contradictory planes of power, oppression, and temporalities, how do we assess, work through, and reconcile, if at all, relations deemed as “irreconcilable” across vectors of difference?
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 3362
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: in-class participation, paper presentation, peer feedback, writing webs (short series of writing exercises), and final project developed from original research and/or creative work
Prerequisites: AMST 101 or WGSS 101
Enrollment Preferences: AMST and WGSS seniors and juniors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AFR 396 Division II AMST 428 Division II WGSS 428 Division II
WS Notes: Students will regularly engage in a series of writing exercises and submit a longer paper presentation that will be peer reviewed and revised.
DPE Notes: The main objective of the course is to study and assess ethnic studies' approaches to questions of difference, particularly as it relates to theories of racialization and relationality across multiple nodes of power and oppression.
Attributes: AFR Theories, Methods, and Poetics
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
AMST 400-level Senior Seminars
WGSS Theory Courses

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