AY24 Faculty-Graduate Seminar: "Black Movement :: Black Stillness" ft. Rahsaan Mahadeo (Providence College)

Mar 26, 2024, 5:00 pm6:30 pm
  • Faculty & Staff
  • Graduate Affairs



Event Description

Black Movement :: Black Stillness

This year-long seminar explores quiet, rest, imagination, and play as essential for Black aliveness. What does it mean to imagine Black culture beyond resistance, Black labor buoyed by leisure, Black thought marked by hesitance, Black movements rooted in stillness? We take up these questions in light of Kevin Quashie’s contention in The Sovereignty of Quiet: “Blackness is always supposed to tell us something about race and racism, or about America, or violence and struggle and triumph or poverty and hopefulness. The determination to see blackness only through a social public lens, as if there were no inner life, is racist… and it practically thwarts other ways of reading.” So let us read otherwise.

In reflecting on the relationship between Black movement and stillness, we will consider how labor struggles are, at once, rest struggles. Here, we will take up Tricia Hershey’s critique of grind culture as we question the idea that the purpose of rest is to “recharge” and “refuel” to produce more "output to capitalism.” Engaging Black childhood studies, we will reckon with how play and games are no less important than education and study, and we will reflect on how celebrations of “Black excellence” can obscure Black exhaustion, vulnerability, and disability. As we consider the chronic weathering of Black bodies, we will investigate the importance of sleep and other forms of rest for intergenerational healing. Sleep deprivation, after all, is dream deprivation. But we will insist on dreaming… as the basis of collective organizing and intimate worldmaking.

Taken together, this series is experimental as much as interdisciplinary — practicing, playing, and imagining alongside a wide range of scholars, artists, and activists. If, as Toni Cade Bambara cautioned, “not all speed is movement,” then this seminar invites a slower approach to thinking and being in and beyond the academy.


Meet The Speaker

Rahsaan Mahadeo is a first-generation college student from a working-class background, who was born in Boston, but raised in Providence. Prior to earning his PhD in sociology, Rahsaan worked as a youthworker and social worker in Providence and Boston. Rahsaan is committed to radical social thought and action inside and outside the academy.

Area(s) of Expertise:

critical race and ethnic studies; Black studies; time; abolition; radical social and political thought; youth; the life course perspective; urban sociology

Teaching Philosophy:

I do not privilege the university as a gatekeeper of knowledge or the primary site of knowledge production. There are countless sites of knowledge production outside the university and there are plenty of intellectuals without extra initials behind their names capable of teaching those within the university more than they can ever be given credit for. Hence, my scholarship and pedagogy acknowledge the bidirectional teaching-learning relationship between university and community. Rather than privileging a fixed endpoint of knowledge attainment, I treat learning as an ongoing process. As I push students to engage earnestly with course content, I emphasize how critical thinking is both a learning outcome and part of a larger pedagogical process. The broader goal is for students to analyze and synthesize course material in order to augment existing conceptions of their social worlds, while developing new tools for sharpening critical perspectives. I have learned that valuing wonderment and inquiry is sometimes more generative than valuing answers. Students learn that knowledge production first requires knowledge disruption. What motivates me as a teaching scholar is the opportunity to create critical learning environments filled with invitations and provocations. I invite students to embrace the intimate connection between biography and scholarship. I also invite students to question the question, especially when such questions the parameters for discourse and the terms and conditions for agreement. To that end, my courses provoke students to distinguish between “schooling” and “education.” I am not interested in helping students improve their memorization skills to regurgitate textbooks. Instead, I acknowledge students’ capacity to analyze, synthesize, evaluate and apply what they learn inside and outside the classroom.

Event Type
Faculty-Graduate Seminar
Event Category
AAS Event


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Any individual, including visitors to campus, who requires accommodation should contact Dionne Worthy ([email protected]) at least one week in advance of the event.