Joshua Myers is associate professor of Africana Studies at Howard University. He is the author of We Are Worthing For: A History of the Howard University Student Protest of 1989 and Cedric Robinson: The Time of the Black Radical Tradition. He writes and thinks about Africana Studies and disciplinarity, the forms of cultural meaning-making that are music, foodways, and visual expression, and the Black Radical tradition as both theory and way of being. He is the editor of A Gathering Together: Literary Journal, where these ideas converge with art and words. Works in progress consider the meanings of nation and state in liberation struggles and the intellectual insurgency of Africana Studies.
Title: “No-spaces and Returns.”
Abstract: The maps of the modern world created no-spaces of freedom. Blackness was its warrant. Dionne Brand’s A Map to the Door of No Return is meditation and reflection of the meaning of these conditions. When it was published twenty years ago, the rendering of Blackness as absence, as nothingness was perhaps less understood than it is today. This occasions the question of whether or not things have changed. And if the answer is no, what does it portend for the prospect of returns? Not as recovering things that cannot be recovered, but returns as recommitting ourselves to living against this world. What is beautiful about Brand’s intervention is that Blackness, was not only the conditions for this no-space, was not only lack. There is a clear embrace of how we come to know each other even as there are questions for which we cannot answer. But the beauty appears in the questioning, the posing of the query. For when we accept that questions can no longer be posed, we make unfreedom a permanent condition.