The Johannesburg Salon, Volume 8

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Volume 8 of The Johannesburg Salon is now live. Curated by Ayana Smythe (University of California, Santa Barbara), Megan Jones (University of Stellenbosch), Leigh-Ann Naidoo (University of the Witwatersrand) and Achille Mbembe (University of the Witwatersrand), it captures the form and spirit of “Archives of the Non-Racial”, the Mobile Workshop organized in 2014 by The Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (JWTC) and the Seminar in Experimental Critical Thought (SECT) of the University of California Humanities Research Institute.

Current features include: Angela Davis on her life in the struggle against racism; Achille Mbembe on the dream of a world free from the burden of race; Ruha Benjamin on what we owe each other, Joshua Williams on the sort of community envisioned by the first-person plural “we”; Casey Golomski on memories of Apartheid-era Swaziland; Jorge Campos on reading John Berger from the back of the bus; Pule Welch on the idea of the human race; Kirk Sides on anti-racism and the ethics of listening; Nicky Falkof on extracts from an abortive travelogue, written in the style of Hunter S. Thompson; handwritten notes by Fredo Rivera; Helen Douglas on why the wheels in her head go round and round; Josslyn Luckett on the chronicles of a comic mulatta; Tania Lizarazo on moving utopia; Simon Abramowitsch his notes from Berkeley to South Africa; Tana Nolethu Forrest’s photo essay on affective journeying; Tjasa Kancler’s documentary video; texts and images by Naadira Patel; Sarah Godsell’s notebook as a holding space for thought and emotion; Federico Navarrete on metaphors of racialization and sexuality in the Americas; Danai Mupotsa’s Qunu poems; Ghassan Hage’s handwritten notes; Roberta Estrela D’Alva’s poems; Kelly Gillespie on the bus as method and Sharad Chari on how to get off the bus.

Megan Jones and Achille Mbembe (Editors)

In July 2014, the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (JWTC) and the Seminar in Experimental Critical Theory (SECT) of the University of California at Irvine convened on the theme of Archives of the Non- Racial. Beginning in Johannesburg, speakers and participants undertook a two week long bus journey across South Africa as they travelled through and lingered in sites dense with anti-apartheid histories. The works below offer diverse meditations on the encounters that took place on and off the bus, as participants grappled with the implications of the non-racial in South Africa and beyond. There is also an archive of all the talks kindly hosted on the UCHRI YouTube Channel.

The concept of a “mobile workshop” was first articulated by Leigh-Ann Naidoo. Drawn partly from her ongoing research on the politics of pedagogy in the works of Steve Biko, Paulo Freire and various movements dedicated to disentangling the power/knowledge knot, she earnestly strove to translate it into a viable intellectual program. In this quest, “the bus” acquired a particular valency both as a metaphor for a form of knowledge-in-motion and as a creative device that speaks to historical experiences of displacement (the ship during the Middle Passage; the freedom ride bus during the Civil Rights movement in the United States).

Following Michael Warner, we can also think of the bus as a moving public; a mobile, enunciative space that unsettles and synthesises the physical and discursive terrains it traverses. In light of this, we have conceived of this Volume as an Exhibition, which has allowed us to suggest the genealogies, strategies and futures of the non-racial as “entry”, “interpellation” and “circulation”. Some of the works presented here are intimate reflections in the form of diary entries and poems, others draw on the potency of the image, while still others seek to frame the debates in essayistic terms. Guided by the curatorship of SA Smythe, the works collected here affirm our engagement with the non-racial as both intellectual, political and affective.

This Volume is dedicated to Leigh-Ann Naidoo.