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Students | Alumni | Faculty+Staff | Chicago | Online | Vancouver | 02.11.22

Social Justice Beyond Borders Series: When Memory is Currency, When Currency is Memory

Presented by: Phanuel Antwi, Ph.D.

In this presentation, I will re-member two memorable events in two different geographies and times. My turn to these events and times not only serves as a way to bind loss and violence and desire and pleasure but also as a way to loop both events and create a pocket of time to entangle these feeling structures (loss, violence, desire, pleasure) and their transhistorical emotions. The first memory occurred in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1946 when Viola Desmond, a Black businesswoman, was dragged to jail from a movie theatre by a police officer for sitting in the wrong seating area. Viola Desmond’s punishment consisted of injured hips and knees, a night in jail, and a fine of $20. The second memory took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2020, when George Floyd, a Black man, was buying a pack of cigarettes and the 17-year-old clerk of the family-owned grocery store called 911, believing a forgery was in progress when George Floyd presented a counterfeit $20 bill. George Floyd was pinned to the ground by one of the four officers who arrived for this alleged fraud, and the officer pressed his knee on his neck for more than eight minutes, killing George Floyd. The presentation will address the suggestion that binding and looping these moments together offer us a method of attending to Black social memory and that the $20 bill displays the symptoms of racial violence. Concerning these ideas, I will also present theories from Austin Clarke’s “membering” and Derek Walcott’s “muse of history” to document Black cultural memory and identify repeating patterns of anti-Black racism.

Biography: Dr. Phanuel Antwi is an Assistant Professor in the UBC Department of English Language and Literatures. The breadth of Antwi’s publications and teachings includes critical black studies, colonial settler studies, Black Atlantic and diaspora studies, Canadian literature and culture since 1830, critical race, gender, and sexuality studies, and material cultures. He has published articles in Interventions, Small Axe, Cultural Dynamics, Transitions, Journal of West Indian Literature, Affinities, Canadian Literature, and Studies in Canadian Literature. He is completing a book-length project titled “Currencies of Blackness: Faithfulness, Cheerfulness and Politeness in Settler Writing.” His book, On Cuddling: Loved to Death in the Racial Embrace, is forthcoming with Verso Books (2022).




February 11, 2022


12:00 - 2:00 pm CST


Ann-Marie Hamilton

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