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Blackness Unmoored: Relational Ethics and Aesthetics in Stromae's "Formidable"

Blackness Unmoored Poster
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Wednesday, February 07, 2018
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12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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Daphne Lamothe, Ph.D
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Wednesdays at the Center

Sometimes no bridging is possible; all you can do is hold what is incommensurate. This is one of the most fundamental lessons of black life, as well as in Black Studies. In this presentation, Dr. Lamothe will advance a theory of "blackness unmoored" through an analysis of the lyrics and music video for the song, "Formidable" by Stromae. Lamothe will invoke the metaphor of unmooring to convey the disorientation, and reorientation, of the subject who navigates contending social spaces, racial formations, and orientations to history. The musical and visual registers of Stromae's text captures both the melancholy and potentiality of the subject who is racially othered and unhomed. Its portrayal of the African "stranger" set adrift in the European Union's capital bears witness to the subject's profound humanity, as well as to the material and psychic violence inflicted by structures founded on ideas of black nonbeing.

Daphne Lamothe is the 2017-2018 Humanities Writ Large visiting faculty fellow at Duke University. Lamothe is an associate professor of Africana Studies at Smith College where she teaches literature and cultural studies. Lamothe publishes on poetics and politics of space and place in Black Atlantic literatures and culture. In Lamothe forthcoming book, "Blackness, Being and Event" she examines ontological, phenomenological, and relational ideas of blackness in contemporary narratives of immigrant urbanity.