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a "reorder of things" in black studies: sacred praxis, phono(geo)graphy, and the counter-archive of diaspora

Publication ,  Journal Article
McInnis, JC
Published in: Comparative Literature Studies
February 1, 2022

This article examines Erna Brodber's 1994 novel, Louisiana, as a methodological invitation to the field of Black Studies to query how we do the work of black study. A Jamaican social scientist turned novelist, Brodber finds the tools of social science and notions of Western rationality and reason that undergird it insufficient for the unique challenges of recovering a past characterized by violent rupture and irreparable loss. In turn, she takes up fiction to imagine a new method and field of study to fill in the gaps of black diasporic history. Merging anthropology and sociology with literature, she produces a fictionalized ethnography-the novel Louisiana-that undermines the tenets of Western Enlightenment thought, its various offspring (social scientific method, History, Christianity, and technology), and their attendant claims to truth, facticity, and progress. Mobilizing the epistemes embedded within black diasporic cultural and political practices such as spirit possession, music, storytelling, and grassroots labor organizing, Louisiana constructs a counter-archive of diaspora that is at once sacred, feminist, and communal. Ultimately, the novel sketches the contours of a new interdisciplinary method and field of study-perhaps Brodber's own version of Black Studies-that foregrounds 1) "sacred praxis" vis-à-vis spirit possession as a legitimate mode of knowledge acquisition, 2) the "global black south" as a nodal point of diasporic relationality, and 3) a dispossessive logic and an ethic of humility and surrender in the research process that serves as an affront to notions of liberal individual personhood and the hierarchization of peoples and knowledges that produced and sustain the Western "order of things."

Duke Scholars

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Published In

Comparative Literature Studies

DOI

EISSN

1528-4212

ISSN

0010-4132

Publication Date

February 1, 2022

Volume

59

Issue

1

Start / End Page

11 / 48

Related Subject Headings

  • Literary Studies
  • 4705 Literary studies
  • 2005 Literary Studies
 

Citation

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ICMJE
MLA
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McInnis, J. C. (2022). a "reorder of things" in black studies: sacred praxis, phono(geo)graphy, and the counter-archive of diaspora. Comparative Literature Studies, 59(1), 11–48. https://doi.org/10.5325/complitstudies.59.1.0011
McInnis, J. C. “a "reorder of things" in black studies: sacred praxis, phono(geo)graphy, and the counter-archive of diaspora.” Comparative Literature Studies 59, no. 1 (February 1, 2022): 11–48. https://doi.org/10.5325/complitstudies.59.1.0011.
McInnis, J. C. “a "reorder of things" in black studies: sacred praxis, phono(geo)graphy, and the counter-archive of diaspora.” Comparative Literature Studies, vol. 59, no. 1, Feb. 2022, pp. 11–48. Scopus, doi:10.5325/complitstudies.59.1.0011.
Journal cover image

Published In

Comparative Literature Studies

DOI

EISSN

1528-4212

ISSN

0010-4132

Publication Date

February 1, 2022

Volume

59

Issue

1

Start / End Page

11 / 48

Related Subject Headings

  • Literary Studies
  • 4705 Literary studies
  • 2005 Literary Studies