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The Alchemy Lecture

The Alchemy Lecture is a multi-vocal model that brings together a constellation of three to four thinkers and practitioners from different disciplines and geographies annually to think together and in public on the most pressing issues of our times.

Borders, Human Itineraries and All Our Relation

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Date: November 10, 2022

Four Alchemists. One Lecture.
A Constellation of Ideas.

The lecture will be delivered by four renowned alchemists: Dele Adeyemo (UK) architect, creative director, and urban theorist; Natalie Diaz (US/Mojave/Akimel O’otham) poet, MacArthur Foundation Fellow and Founding Director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands, Arizona State University; Nadia Yala Kisukidi (France) Associate Professor in philosophy, Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis University; and Rinaldo Walcott (Canada) Writer, and Professor in the Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto.


Profile photo of professor Christina Sharpe.

Christina Sharpe

Christina Sharpe is a writer, Professor, and Canada Research Chair in Black Studies in the Humanities at York University in Toronto. She is also a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Race, Gender & Class (RGC) at the University of Johannesburg and a Matakyev Research Fellow at the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands at the Arizona State University. She is the author of In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Duke University Press, 2016)—named by the Guardian and the Walrus as one of the best books of 2016 and a nonfiction finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award—and Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects (Duke University Press, 2010), as well as Ordinary Notes, forthcoming in 2023.


Dele Adeyemo profile photo

Dele Adeyemo

Architect, Creative Director, and Urban Theorist, United Kingdom/Nigeria

Dele Adeyemo (UK/Nigeria) is an architect, artist, and critical urban theorist. Dele’s creative practice, research and pedagogy interrogate the underlying racial drivers in the production of space. Adeyemo is completing his PhD, titled Last Dark Continent, at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the recipient of the Journal of Architectural Educators Inaugural Fellowship, the Canadian Centre for Architecture's Andrew Mellon Fellowship and Het Nieuwe Instituut’s Research Fellowship. Adeyemo’s projects have been presented internationally, including at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial, the 13th Sao Paulo Architecture Biennial and the 2nd Edition of the Lagos Biennial. He currently teaches an architecture design studio at the Royal College of Art, London.

Wey Dey Move - experimental art film directed by Dele Adeyemo. (Password: WDM2022)

Our lives are held in relation by the infrastructures of modernity, whether splintering and enclosing or tethering and circulating. And if the transgression of that threshold of no return revealed infrastructure to be a lively assemblage dependent on the position of the unthought, then what infrastructures today hold our lives in relation, upon what unseen bodies do these infrastructures rest? With the notion of black infra-structural life I want to propose a method for bringing into view the position of the unthought as hidden multiscalar assemblages of everyday life that underpin the life of infrastructures. By exploring the turbulent sedimentary circulations amongst the ongoing coloniality of rapid urbanisation in Lagos, Nigeria, the improvised, anticipatory and provisional relations that underpin its infrastructures are surfaced. Wey dey move the Nigerian Pidgin term meaning things change and constantly evolve, underscores the way we must all learn to move in an uncertain world.

Natalie Diaz profile photo

Natalie Diaz

Poet, MacArthur Foundation Fellow and Founding Director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands, Arizona State University, US/Mojave/Akimel O'otham

Natalie Diaz (US/Mojave/Akimel O’otham) was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. She is the author of When My Brother Was an Aztec, winner of the American Book Award, and Diaz's second collection, Postcolonial Love Poem, was published by Graywolf Press in 2020 and won a Pulitzer Prize. She is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, Lannan Literary Fellow, and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. She is an alumni of the United States Artists Ford Fellowship and now serves on the board of trustees. She is currently a Mellon Foundation Fellow. Diaz teaches at the Arizona State University Creative Writing MFA program where she is the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair of Modern and Contemporary Poetry and directs the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands.

To be "of consequence" is another way to think about relationality, a word often used as a shorthand which erases the labor required to enact it. To whom and to what are we of consequence? How will we comport ourselves if we decenter our emergencies or crises and consider the emergencies of others, of other beings? When we say speech or speak or sing, whose tongue do we mean, and in what state of longing? What can it mean to say a language has no future in it, and what other bodies in/of language must we turn toward or back into as we face the morning?

Nadia Yala Kisukidi profile photo

Nadia Yala Kisukidi

Writer, Associate Professor in philosophy, Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis University, France

Nadia Yala Kisukidi is Associate Professor in philosophy at Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis University. She was vice-president of the Collège International de Philosophie (2014-2016). Member of Les Cahiers d’études africaines (CNRS, Ehess) editorial committee, she was co-curator of the Yango II Biennale, Kinshasa / DRC (July/August 2022).

Nadia Yala Kisukidi is specialized in French and Africana philosophy. She has published Bergson ou l’humanité créatrice (CNRS, 2013), Dialogue Transatlantique with the brazilian philosopher Djamila Ribeiro (Anacaona, 2021). Her first novel, La Dissociation (Seuil, 2022) just came out.

This talk builds on an essay by the same name in which Kisukidi proposes to think through borders and diasporas spatial concatenations. The border she speaks of presupposes a process of affective, symbolic, and cultural externalization that accompanies itinerancy, the exile of a family. The "Congo" sign runs through and recomposes, in a minor key, the French space she inhabits. The "Souths" live in the "Norths"; multiple spatial expanses shape the private lives of families. Landscapes are superimposed and conjoined in the inner life of the individual. This is how life in the diaspora is territorialized.

Rinaldo Walcott profile photo

Rinaldo Walcott

Writer, and Professor in the Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto, Canada

Rinaldo Walcott is Professor in the Women and Gender Studies Institute and former Canada Research Chair of Social Justice and Cultural Studies. He is also a member of the Graduate Program in Cinema Studies of Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto. His teaching and research are in the area of Black diaspora cultural studies and postcolonial studies with an emphasis on questions of sexuality, and gender. He is the author most recently of On Property (Biblioasis, 2021) and The Long Emancipation: Moving Toward Black Freedom (Duke University Press, 2021).

In this paper, I turn to Black inheritances. I come to Black inheritances as multiple nodes that I argue are the foundation of our current world, that shape our social relations, and that constitute conscious and unconscious knowledge of life. Thinking across art, migrations, histories, and seas I suggest that thinking through Black inheritances as more than an intramural gift means that we might be able to inaugurate the conditions to shape another world.

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Watch for the book edition of The Alchemy Lecture, to be published in October 2023.