On Friday, September 30th, at Wayne State University's McGregor Memorial Conference Center in Detroit, I gave the following presentation for the 2016 Union for Democratic Communications conference. It's an excerpt from the third chapter of my dissertation in progress, currently titled Original Gangsters: Genre, Crime, and Settler Democracy. In it, I analyze the history and present of the gangster genre as a lens through which to better understand the dynamics of contemporary global governance, political economy, and social relations, and I focus specifically on crime as an enduring contestation over resources and rule of law by, on the one hand, politically and economically disenfranchised people, and, on the other, the institutions and institutional actors who formally represent them (liberal-democratic government, the media, and the university being the key institutions I examine). I've posted images with the slides on top, my remarks at the bottom; you can click each image for a closer view.
In this particular excerpt I situate Fetty Wap's recent blockbuster of a hit, "Trap Queen," about a domestic relationship framed by the trap house in which the two partners live and work, within genealogies of "trap spaces" (as I understand Harriet Jacobs's "loophole of retreat" to be, as described in Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl) and the "burdened individuality" of post-emancipation black life as theorized by Saidiya Hartman. Further, I link this trapped, burdened individuality to the disciplinary pressures faced by university students of color, particularly black students, who are compelled to become "Breadwinner/Investor subjects of the nation-state," as Sylvia Wynter explains, or remain on the outside of this over-represented genre of humanity (and bear in mind all the structural obstacles to such becoming).
This is very much a work in progress, so I welcome any and all feedback!
At this point in the presentation I played the first minute or so of the "Trap Queen" video below (beware that when you click play, an ad will start playing...).
Then I returned to my slides as follows.