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Title: Raising pure hell : a general theory of articulation, the syntax of structural overdetermination, and the sound of social movements
Author: Peterson Ii, Victor
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 4130
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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What follows answers a call made by cultural theorist Stuart Hall from the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies to formalize a "mechanism of articulation" for the study of race, ethnicity, and social movements. A mechanism is developed alongside a syntactic structure towards developing this general theory of Articulation. Articulation is formalized so as to be applied to the study of particular historical conditions without losing its analytic power to account for contemporary states of affairs. To do so, this thesis explores an encounter between youth and subcultural movements. The method developed is employed to provide an alternative approach and a historical basis to a particular mode of engaging with the field of Black Studies. Afro-pessimism, as set out by Orlando Patterson (1982) and through one of its most recent architects Frank B. Wilderson III (2009) supposes blackness as comprised of an absolute or universally total nihilism. The Pessimist forwards the impossibility of blackness' contravening its subordination. This line grounds a philosophical and political perspective forwarded by Jared Sexton (2011) and others in what Sexton calls "The Social Life of Social Death." I attend to problems raised by Afro-Pessimism-Black identity's operation out of a cultural and, therefore, political death-which renders the formation of social movements to counter structural overdetermination and subordination impossible. In challenging Identity theory, we reveal the Pessimist's position as internally contradictory. Taking as its case study Black subjectivity's articulation through punk-a musical and cultural form said to be devoid of an inner logic or mechanism for creating and expressing thought-the theory developed in this thesis secures a generative syntax for forms of Black expression. It provides an alternative method to the study of other subjects and movements as well as interrogates the political economy constituting various states of affairs as it pertains to Black study. This project firstly illustrates the syntax and assertability conditions of an articulatory mechanism. Next, it explores textual evidence relating Black literary expression's tie to music in order to demonstrate musical expression as a product of this mechanism for creating thought; thus, a capacity expressing subjectivity outside of identity constraints. Then, we situate our articulatory mechanism within a set of historical conditions in which the initial call for and our formulation of this formal treatment was in response. Finally, we explore the implications of the application of this formal articulatory mechanism to further Black studies and the analysis of social movements. The schema developed in this study represents an inquiry into how Black subjectivity articulates its agency in the world through punk. As a form of expression less ready and violent to the idea of being dispossessed of its agency or incorporated into a mainstream value system, punk modes of articulation lend themselves to the study of the formation of subjectivity outside of strict identification within a predetermined frame of reference. Black expressive capacity through punk is a prime subject to complicate an essentialized concept of "Black"-ness. Traditionally, the question of articulation and existence is formulated within the context of an entity whose very being questions the categories of that state of affairs. As a matter of syntax, negation cannot proceed modality. Syntactically, although we can express both, we understand "---may not ..." as valid but, "---not may ..." as unintelligible. Through this demonstration alone, the work of this thesis proves the negative existential predicated of blackness by the Pessimist as incorrect.
Supervisor: Gilroy, Paul Christopher ; Birchall, Clare Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available