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Thinking with Spirits: An Unlearning - Talk by Jason Allen-Paisant

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About this event

This event is part of the "FRICTION: French Research in Culture Theory and Imaginationseminar series, which sets out to explore the latest research in French Studies, promoting the rub between disciplines and practices that are enriching the field.

This talk is based on the introductory chapter of Allen-Paisant’s forthcoming book with Oxford University Press entitled 'Engagements with Aimé Césaire: Thinking with Spirits'. The book considers what Césaire’s work shows us about the relationship between spirit, knowledge and thought. This is more than Hegel’s Geist, a sense of thought “unfolding itself out of itself, by itself”, since what Césaire’s work shows is how spirit transcends the concept of the individual. As this book argues, to recentre spirit as part of the dynamics of knowing and being is politically radical, since it takes an interest in what it is like to live alongside many visible and invisible nonhuman beings, and in what a subjectivity not defined by human control of the world might look like. This will be the first sustained consideration of the connections between spirit and knowing in Césaire’s work, showing how his construal of poetry leads to a rethinking of these categories. The book highlights the import of this kind of thinking to the project of decolonisation.


Speaker - Doctor Jason Allen-Paisant

Dr Jason Allen-Paisant is Senior Lecturer in Critical Theory and Creative Writing in the Department of English, American Studies, and Creative Writing. He is the author of Théâtre dialectique postcolonial (Classiques Garnier) and of Engagements with Aimé Césaire (forthcoming from Oxford University Press, 2023), which is a philosophical study of poetry from the perspective of African metaphysics. He is also the author of two volumes of poetry — Thinking with Trees (winner of the Poetry category of the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature) and Self-Portrait as Othello (a 2023 Poetry Book Society Choice). His creative nonfiction book Scanning the Bush will be published by Hutchinson Heinemann in 2024. He has twice been guest editor of special issues of scholarly journals: Performing Black Futures and Face à l’histoire coloniale (the latter co-edited with Clare Finburgh Delijani), for Parallax and Théâtre/Public respectively. His work has also resulted in numerous peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals and in creative/critical writings for various magazines, including Granta.