Shadee Malaklou is a critical race and gender and sexuality studies scholar with expertise in Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks (1952). Her scholarship interrogates social and political constructions of time to argue that gender and sexuality are produced as identity and type through the exclusion of black persons from human recognition and protections. Her provocative and promiscuous readings of Fanon contribute to the study of gender and sexuality, to black study, and to critical race and ethnic studies more generally; because her research finds that non-black persons of color are able to transcend ‘the bush’—which Hegel et al. describe as the location of the “black African,” a place where gender is undifferentiated and sexuality is unbridled and unchecked—through carefully curated sex and gender expressions that signpost movement through time, or racial modernity. In addition to writing for academic journals, Malaklou regularly publishes think pieces, most recently, in The Conversationalist, The Feminist Wire and CounterPunch; and periodically contributes to Always Already: A Critical Theory Podcast as the Frantz Fanon correspondent. Prior to joining Berea College as the Inaugural Director and founder of the bell hooks center and Chair of Women’s and Gender (and Sexuality) Studies, Malaklou served as Assistant Professor (2016-2019) and Acting Chair (2018-2019) of Critical Identity Studies at Beloit College, where she was also a Mellon Faculty Fellow for the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (2016-2018). Malaklou also currently serves as visiting faculty in the Centre for Expanded Poetics at Concordia University in Montreal. She received her PhD in Culture and Theory and graduate certificates in Critical Theory and Feminist Studies from the University of California, Irvine and her BA in Cultural Anthropology and Women’s Studies from Duke University.
All About Love (and Dissidence): Dreaming with bell hooks
In the first part of this keynote address, Founder and Inaugural Director of the bell hooks center at Berea College Dr. M. Shadee Malaklou will elaborate the relationship between hooks’ critique of intersecting structures of oppression—what she famously describes as “imperialist white supremacist capitalist [cis-hetero-] patriarchy—and her more popular call for a love ethic. Malaklou bemoans that hooks’ attention to love has been depoliticized by intellectuals and institutions alike to obscure and discredit (and defang) her more dissident interventions. Instead, Malaklou dwells on what hooks wanted to teach us: that love is a verb, an action, an intention, a choice, a possibility, an accountability—to ourselves, to each other, and to the earth that sustains us. As hooks says, [quote] “love is as love does;” and elsewhere, “there can be no love without justice.” Malaklou will argue that hooks’ love ethic teaches us how to resist our current conditions of oppression as well as how to dream of an Otherwise in which all lives matter.
In the second half of her talk, Malaklou will ask the difficult question: how can we love ourselves in a world that teaches us—especially those amongst us who are women, femme, and gender non-conforming persons of color—to hate ourselves? More to the point: how can we lovingly set the world on fire (i.e., in order to create different possibilities for living) before we address the cognitive dissonance that goads us to act against own self-interest, at the behest of whiteness? By putting hooks’s writings in conversation with the insights of anti-colonial and anti-racist thinker Frantz Fanon, Malaklou considers how we might live outside of the white gaze that we have internalized and which forecloses the celebration of our differences. She argues that hooks's lesson that love is the way and that justice is the destination exemplifies Fanon’s invitation to “leap” towards alternative worlds of our own making. Join us as we dream and agitate with both of these dissident thinkers in order to build “feminist movement” that is—as hooks insists that all feminism must be—“fundamentally anti-racist."