Charis welcomes Julietta Singh in conversation with Emily Bernard for a celebration of The Breaks: An Essay. A profound meditation on race, inheritance, and queer mothering at the end of the world.
In a letter to her six-year-old daughter, Julietta Singh writes toward a tender vision of the world, offering children's radical embrace of possibility as a model for how we might live. In order to survive looming political and ecological disasters, Singh urges, we must break from the conventions we have inherited and begin to orient ourselves toward more equitable and revolutionary paths.
The Breaks celebrates queer family-making, communal living, and Brown girlhood, complicating the stark binaries that shape contemporary U.S. discourse. With nuance and generosity, Singh reveals the connections among the crises humanity faces--climate catastrophe, extractive capitalism, and the violent legacies of racism, patriarchy, and colonialism--inviting us to move through the breaks toward a tenable future.
Julietta Singh is a writer and academic whose work engages the enduring effects of colonization, current ecological crisis, and queer-feminist futures. She is the author of two previous books: No Archive Will Restore You (Punctum Books, 2018) and Unthinking Mastery: Dehumanism and Decolonial Entanglements (Duke University Press, 2018). She currently lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her family.
Emily Bernard is the author of Black is the Body: Stories from My Mother's Time and Mine, which was named one of the best books of 2019 by Kirkus Reviews and National Public Radio. Black is the Body won the 2020 Los Angeles Times Christopher Isherwood Prize for autobiographical prose. Emily’s previous books include: Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; and Some of My Best Friends: Writings on Interracial Friendship, which was chosen by the New York Public Library as a Book for the Teen Age; and, with Deborah Willis, Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs, which received a 2010 NAACP Image Award. Her work has appeared in: Harper’s, TLS, The New Republic, The New Yorker, O the Oprah Magazine, Image, Best American Essays, Best African American Essays, and Best of Creative Nonfiction. She has received fellowships from the Alphonse A. Fletcher Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Arts Council, and the W. E. B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University. Emily was the inaugural James Weldon Johnson Senior Research Fellow in African American Studies at Yale University. A 2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow, Emily lives in South Burlington, Vermont, with her husband and twin daughters.
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A profound meditation on race, inheritance, and queer mothering at the end of the world.
At once memoir, theory, poetic prose, and fragment, NO ARCHIVE WILL RESTORE YOU is a feverish meditation on the body. Departing from Antonio Gramsci's summons to compile an inventory of the historical traces left in each of us, Singh engages with both the impossibility and urgent necessity of crafting an archive of the body.
Julietta Singh challenges the drive toward the mastery over self and others by showing how the forms of self-mastery advocated by anticolonial thinkers like Fanon and Gandhi unintentionally reproduced colonial logic, thereby leading her to argue for a more productive human subjectivity that is not centered on concepts of mastery.