Jameelah Imani Morris

Jameelah Imani Morris is a PhD Candidate in Social and Cultural Anthropology at Stanford University. Her dissertation research, tentatively titled “Black Youth Political Subjectivity, Violence, and the Making of Colombia’s Paradise” studies how gendered anti-Black state violence targeting young Black people scaffolds the production of the city of Cartagena as Colombia’s “paradise”. Through ethnographic and archival research, she studies how Black youth political mobilizations in Cartagena, Colombia combat anti-Black state violence in their communities and transnationally. Her research particularly highlights how the political demands and political lives of Black youth, as a central part of a longstanding intergenerational movement, works to expose how anti-Black state violence frustrates the ability of Black youth to access the normative expectation of aging and dying a “natural” death. 

Title: “Drifting in the Middle: A Reflection on Forgetting and Time in Map.” 

Abstract: Map draws us towards the uncharted/able expanse of the Door of No Return, and particularly the ways the Door overwhelms temporal senses and experiences. The Door, Brand describes, is a passport from a territory so vast that “we are always in the middle of the journey” (49). For example, in the closing pages of Map, Brand writes of her grandfather’s forgetting of origins as having been passed down to him, especially by the one who stepped through the Door. Earlier, she describes an old man with Alzheimer’s disease that, not realizing he is in his new home, paces back and forth holding his belongings with a readiness for his daughter, who can no longer care for him, to take him home. When the Door disassembles both destination and origin how can one not readily pace back and forth somewhere in suspension? 

Reflecting on these scenes from Map, this paper meditates on what Map informs about the relation between blackness and time. Taking seriously both Brand’s conception that we “have no such immediate sense of belonging, only of drift” (118) and the register of “drift” as “a continuous slow movement from one place to another,” this reflection sits with how Map names a temporality of the Door that is not about fantastical change or transformation, but about continuous arrivals to the experience of a suspension that never leaves.