Frank B. Wilderson III, professor of Drama and African American Studies at University of California at Irvine, joined the 2016-17 Fisher Center lecture series on Wednesday, Oct. 26, bringing his experience as an award-winning writer, activist and critical theorist to bear on the series theme of “home.”
Wilderson spent five and a half years in South Africa, where he was one of two Americans to have held an elected office in the African National Congress (ANC) during the country’s transition from apartheid. He also worked clandestinely as a member of the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK).
In 1995, a South African journalist informed Wilderson that President Nelson Mandela considered him “a threat to national security.” Wilderson was asked to comment. The book “Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid” is that “comment.” “Incognegro” received the American Book Award, the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award, the Eisner Prize for Creative Achievement of the Highest Order, and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship.
Wilderson is also the author of a book on cinema, politics, and race: “Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms” (Duke University Press, 2010). His poetry, creative prose, critical and film production are predicated on the notion that slavery did not end in 1865; the United States simply made adjustments to the force of Black resistance without diminishing the centrality of Black captivity to the stability and coherence of civil society. This assumptive logic has helped catalyze a new school of thought in the academy and beyond, called Afro-Pessimism.
His talk was held at 7 p.m. in the Fisher Center.
Examining the theme “No Place Like Home,” this year’s lecture series explores the diverse productions of and investments in the concept of “home” in the context of capitalism and technology, refugee crises and ecological catastrophe, policing and colonialism.
Founded in 1998, the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men brings together faculty, students and experts in gender-related fields in the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences to foster mutual understanding and social justice in contemporary society.