6th Feb 2019 5:30pm-7:00pm

Grand Parade, G4


Utopian Memories: the Hawthorn Archive

Professor Avery F. Gordon (University of California, Santa Barbara and Birkbeck School of Law University of London)

The Hawthorn Archive has long welcomed the participants in the various Euro-American social struggles against slavery, racial capitalism, imperialism, and authoritarian forms of order. The Archive is not a library or a research collection in the conventional sense but rather a disorganized and fugitive space for the development of a political consciousness of being indifferent to the deadly forms of power that characterize our society. Housed by the Archive are autonomous radicals, runaways, abolitionists, commoners, and dreamers who no longer live as obedient or merely resistant subjects. I have recently published a large selection of materials from the Hawthorn Archive. In this talk, I will discuss the origins of the Hawthorn Archive as a project and one of the main theoretical ideas it proposes. The philosopher Ernst Bloch declared that “all given existence and being itself has utopian margins which surround actuality with real and objective possibility.” Taking up the idea of the utopian margins, the Hawthorn Archive explores the histories that haunt the utopian as we’ve come to narrowly define that term and what Bloch suggests is their real possibilities. The talk invites consideration of another utopianism rooted in slaves running away, marronage, “quiet encroachment,” rebellion, soldier desertion and other often illegible forms of escape, resistance and alternative ways of life.

Avery F. Gordon is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Visiting Professor at Birkbeck School of Law University of London. She is the author of The Hawthorn Archive: Letters from the Utopian Margins (Fordham University Press 2018), The Workhouse: The Breitenau Room (with Ines Schaber) (Konig 2015), Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination (University of Minnesota Press, 2nded. 2008), and Keeping Good Time: Reflections on Knowledge, Power and People (Paradigm, 2004), among other books and articles. Her work focuses on radical thought and practice and she writes about captivity, enslavement, war and other forms of dispossession and how to eliminate them. She serves on the Editorial Committee of the journal Race & Class and is the co-host of No Alibis, a weekly public affairs radio program on KCSB FM Santa Barbara.