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Alexis Pauline Gumbs: Kinship Aspirations: An Interspecies Middle Passage

Event Type
Humanities Research Institute
Levis Faculty Center, Room 300
Nov 1, 2023   7:30 pm  
Humanities Research Institute
Originating Calendar

Kinship Aspirations: An Interspecies Middle Passage
In this interactive lecture Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs (award-winning writer, independent scholar and activist) looks at the connections between marine mammal adaptation and the legacies of the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans. This is a space for anyone breathing between worlds.

Dr. Gumbs will be signing copies of her books after the event, available for purchase at the Illini Union Bookstore.

About the Speaker

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a Queer Black Troublemaker and Black Feminist Love Evangelist and an aspirational cousin to all sentient beings. Her work in this lifetime is to facilitate infinite, unstoppable ancestral love in practice. Her poetic work in response to the needs of her cherished communities have held space for multitudes in mourning and movement. Alexis’s co-edited volume of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines (PM Press, 2016) has shifted the conversation on mothering, parenting and queer transformation. Alexis has transformed the scope of intellectual, creative and oracular writing with her triptych of experimental works published by Duke University Press (Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity in 2016, M Archive: After the End of the World in 2018 and Dub: Finding Ceremony forthcoming in 2020.) Unlike most academic texts, Alexis’s work has inspired artists across form to create dance works, installation work, paintings, processionals, divination practices, operas, quilts and more. 

Alexis is the founder of Brilliance Remastered, an online network and series of retreats and online intensives serving community accountable intellectuals and artists in the legacies of Audre Lorde’s profound statement in “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” that the preceding statement is “only threatening to those…who still think of the master’s house as their only source of support.” Through retreats on ancestor accountable intellectual practice, and online courses on topics from anger as a resource to transnational intellectual solidarity Alexis and her Brilliance Remastered collaborators have nurtured a community of thinkers and artists grounded in the resources that normative institutions ignore.

All of Alexis’s work is grounded in a community building ethic and would not be possible without her communities of accountability in Durham, NC the broader US Southeast and the global south. As a co-founder member of UBUNTU A Women of Color Survivor-Led Coalition to End Gendered Violence, Warrior Healers Organizing Trust and Earthseed Land Collective in Durham, NC, a member of the first visioning council of Kindred Southern Healing Justice Network and a participant in Southerners on New Ground, Allied Media Projects, Black Women’s Blueprint and the International Black Youth Summit for more than a decade she brings a passion for the issues that impact oppressed communities and an intimate knowledge of the resilience of movements led by Black, indigenous, working class women and queer people of color. Her writing in key movement periodicals such as Make/Shift, Left Turn, The Abolitionist, Ms. Magazine, and the collections Abolition Now, The Revolution Starts at Home, Dear Sister and the Transformative Justice Reader have offered clarity and inspiration to generations of activists.

Alexis’s work with her primary collaborator Sangodare has shown the world a Queer Black Feminist Love Ethic in practice. Over the past 11 years they have nurtured the Mobile Homecoming Project, an experiential archive amplifying generations of Black LGBTQ Brilliance which has consisted of listening tour of the United States (in a 1988 Winnebago!) 7 intergenerational retreats and pilgrimages in the Southeast US, a media and audio archive of many Black Feminist LGBTQ elders and is now in the land stewardship phase of building a living library and archive that serves as an all ages independent and assisted living community of intergenerational learning and love. Sangodare and Alexis are also the co-founders of Black Feminist Film School, an initiative to screen, study and produce films with a Black feminist ethic. Sangodare and Alexis have also collaborated on the exhibition Breathing Back at the Carrack Gallery in Durham, NC and more than 50 visits to campuses, organizations and conferences in the United States.

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