The Undercommons. Fugitive Planning & Black Study, Brooklyn, Autonomedia (2013).
by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten
Introduction by Jack Halberstam
In this series of essays Fred Moten and Stefano Harney draw on the theory and practice of the black radical tradition as it supports, inspires, and extends contemporary social and political thought and aesthetic critique. Today the general wealth of social life finds itself confronted by mutations in the mechanisms of control: the proliferation of capitalist logistics, governance by credit, and the management of pedagogy. Working from and within the social poesis of life in the undercommons Moten and Harney develop and expand an array of concepts: study, debt, surround, planning, and the shipped. On the fugitive path of an historical and global blackness, the essays in this volume unsettle and invite the reader to the self-organised ensembles of social life that are launched every day and every night amid the general antagonism of the undercommons.
“This is a powerful book, made of words and sounds, crisscrossed by subversion and love, written and studied ‘with and for,’ as Stefano Harney and Fred Moten put it. The roar of the battle is never distant while reading The Undercommons. The London riots and occupy, practices of refusal, marronage and flight, slave revolts and anti-colonial uprisings frame a challenging rethinking of concepts such as policy and planning, debt and credit, governance and logistics. The Undercommons is a homage to the black radical tradition, to its generative and constituent power before the task of imagining ‘dispossessed feelings in common’ as the basis of a renewed communism.” – Sandro Mezzadra
“What kind of intervention can cut through neoliberal configuration of today’s university, which betrays its own liberal commitment to bring about emancipation? The Undercommons is a powerful and necessary intervention that invites us to imagine and realise social life otherwise. In this intimate and intense example of affected writing – writing which is always already other, with an other – Harney and Moten dare us to fall. Following, feeling, an other possible manner living together, or as one may say with Glissant – to be ‘born into the world,’ which is the fate and gift of blackness. Otherwise living, as in the quilombos created by Brazilian slaves, is the promise that is escape!” – Denise Ferreira da Silva
Bio: Stefano Harney is Professor of Strategic Management Education at Singapore Management University. He is the author of State Work: Public Administration and Mass Intellectuality (2002) and The Ends of Management (forthcoming). Fred Moten is Professor of Modern Poetry at Duke University and the author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (2003) and B Jenkins (2010).