Relational Repair: Black Life Beyond Injury

Jovan Scott Lewis | University of California, Berkeley
October 23, 2023, 3:00 p.m. | 315 Haskell Hall

Abstract: In our political present, shaped by the insurgent recognition of the consequences of antiblackness following the murder of George Floyd, but whose influence is quickly expiring, this talk examines the possibilities for African American reparations. Thinking from what I identify as our reparative conjuncture, the talk addresses the societal and ethical limitations of what kind of reparations this moment can produce. Recognizing that the harms against African Americans and Black life in the Americas are generally harms against Black relations, the talk advances a relational framework of reparation. In doing so, the talk resists Blackness' conception primarily through studying antiblack violence and its related practices of resistance to offer a formula for repair beyond the terms of Black injury. 

Biography: Jovan Scott Lewis is Associate Professor and Chair of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the political economy of racialized poverty in the Caribbean and the United States through analyses of racial capitalism, underdevelopment, and the responding policies and practices for reparations and repair. From 2021-2023, Jovan served as a governor-appointed member of the California State Reparations Task Force. He is the author of Scammer’s Yard: The Crime of Black Repair in Jamaica (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) and Violent Utopia: Dispossession and Black Restoration in Tulsa (Duke University Press, 2022) and co-editor of the Black Geographic: Praxis, Resistance, Futurity (Duke University Press, 2023). 

Please join us for a reception on Haskell’s mezzanine immediately following Dr. Lewis's talk.