Sept. 16 Colloquium

James Padilioni (Swarthmore): “Were It Not for the Saints: Black Hagiographic Consciousness, a Celebratory Mode of Social Death”
James Padilioni
Sep 16, 2021 at - | Cohen Hall 204

While recent Afro-pessimist scholarly discourse has resurrected Orlando Patterson’s heuristic of social death to describe the political ontology of modern Blackness, many of these studies uncritically rely on Eurocentric conceptions that liken death to negation, separation, and absence. Drawing on Prof. Padilioni’s in-progress monograph, this talk analyzes the figure of Black sainthood to proffer the notion of Black hagiographic consciousness. It explores ritual, performative, and mythopoetic modes by which Black folks invoke the sacred memory and sensuous presence of particular elevated ancestors, celebrating them as saints endowed with divine agency to make intercession upon the material plane and instigate flourishing.