The seminar has two sections. In the first half, whiteness will be examined as a set of practices and infrastructures that shaped and were shaped by settler colonialism and plantation slavery in the world formed by British settler colonialism in what is now the US and Australia. This will be counterpointed with decolonial and antifascist ways of thinking.
In the second section, this perspective will inform the (re)thinking of visual and cultural studies in the UK (and elsewhere), from the moment when Barbadian writer George Lamming coined the concept “way of seeing” in London (1960), just after the radicalized violence of 1958-59 and at the beginning of national decolonization. From there, it looks at racism in Mrs. Thatcher’s “great moving right show”; the legacies of UK postcolonial melancholia in shaping Brexit and the current “hostile environment” in the UK (not to mention the US).
The counterpoints here are Fallism movement from South Africa and campaigns of solidarity with migrants and refugees, studied both as legacies of British colonial white supremacy and how it might be resisted.
As will be apparent, activists, artists and scholars of color have always had key insights into the undoing and transformation of the racial hierarchy known as “whiteness.” For those of us identified or identifying with groups historically designated “white,” this work can only be approached with a certain humility and openness—the prerequisites to hospitality.