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Millennials Are Killing Capitalism

Nov 1, 2022

[The image contains the cover of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Scenes of Subjection, two images of author Saidiya Hartman, and one image from visual artist Torkwase Dyson (which is included in the book) entitled set/interval/enclosure]

For this conversation we are extremely honored to welcome Saidiya Hartman to the podcast. 

In this conversation we’ll be talking about the new 25th anniversary edition of Hartman’s groundbreaking and influential work Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America.

In addition to Scenes, Saidiya Hartman is the author of two other amazing books, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval and Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route. She has been a MacArthur Fellow, Guggenheim Fellow, Cullman Fellow, and Fulbright Scholar. She is a Professor at Columbia University.

This 25th anniversary edition features a new preface by the author, a foreword by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an afterword by Marisa J. Fuentes and Sarah Haley, notations with Cameron Rowland, and compositions by Torkwase Dyson.

We ask about a number of the key formulations in Scenes, including Hartman’s work on empathy, the fungibility of Blackness, the varied violences and violations of enslavement, white supremacy and the popular theater, and the constitutive limits of bourgeois liberal democracy. 

We also talk about Black Feminism, gender differentiation, and the role of cishetpatriarchy in law, violation, and aspiration. 

A content notice, that although we don’t hover on details, the conversation does include references to rape, abuse, and sexual violence in the context of slavery and in its afterlives.

Hartman shares some clarifications on where the pessimism in Scenes lies. She also offers scathing critiques of the limits of emancipation, of the structure of citizenship, and of the project of inclusion within US empire and racial capitalism. 

Along the way, we take time to attend to various forms of Black anarchism and the attendant survival programs that Hartman observes and highlights in Scenes and in her later work, particularly Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments.

We are also partnering with Massive Bookshop and Prisons Kill to send copies of this book into prisoners. This is part of a new project where we will pick one book each month to share with incarcerated people. We’ll provide a link to this program in the show notes if you want to contribute to it. You can also pick up a copy for yourself while you’re over there if you like.

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