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  • Monday, October 28, 2019 - 5:15pm to 7:15pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion, sixth floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

Please join us for our next meeting of the 2019-2020 Workshop in the History of Material Texts. We will convene Monday, October 28th at 5:15 PM in the Class of 1978 Pavilion on the sixth floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library.

We will be welcoming David Kazanjian (Penn) for a talk entitled "Documenting Dispossession in the 1690s." David writes:

I will discuss my research on dispossession in Mexico and New England at the turn of the 18th century, focusing on two quite differently documented legal cases in the archives of two empires with contrasting notarial practices: one involving an Afro-Yucatecan man named Juan Patricio, as recorded in an over 700-page legajo held in the Archivo de Indias in Seville, and another involving an African American man from Boston named Adam, as recorded in about 30 pages of fragmentary documents from the Suffolk Court Files held at the Massachusetts Archives in Boston. I will discuss the hermeneutic challenges and possibilities of working on cases that were quite differently documented. In the larger project to which this research contributes, I contend that we can read these cases for glimpses of Juan Patricio and Adam’s subaltern theories of dispossession. Whereas many contemporary theories of dispossession presuppose that the dispossessed previously owned what was stolen from them, and thus seek the return of their stolen possessions, Adam and Juan Patricio seem to eschew possession as such even as they critique dispossession. They thus can be said to offer anti-foundationalist theories of dispossession as well as anti-dispossessive politics at odds with possessiveness.

David Kazanjian is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. His areas of specialization are transnational American literary and historical studies through the nineteenth century, Latin American studies (especially nineteenth-century Mexico), political philosophy, continental philosophy, colonial discourse studies, and Armenian diaspora studies. He is a member of the organizing collectives of the Tepoztlán Institute and of the journal Social Text. His first monograph, The Colonizing Trick: National Culture and Imperial Citizenship in Early America (Minnesota) offers a comparative study of colonial and antebellum, racial and national formations, and a critique of the formal egalitarianism that animated early U.S. citizenship. He has co-edited (with David L. Eng) Loss: The Politics of Mourning (California), as well as (with Shay Brawn, Bonnie Dow, Lisa Maria Hogeland, Mary Klages, Deb Meem, and Rhonda Pettit) The Aunt Lute Anthology of U.S. Women Writers, Volume One: Seventeenth through Nineteenth Centuries (Aunt Lute Books). His most recent monograph, The Brink of Freedom: Improvising Life in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World (Duke), offers a study of two nineteenth-century social movements (immigration to Liberia and the Caste War of Yucatán) that improvised with liberal discursive practices of freedom.