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The Re-enchantment of Humanism: An Interview with Sylvia Wynter

, Bookshelf

Strelka visiting lecturer Patricia Reed recommends this in-depth interview with Sylvia Wynter, one of the foremost Caribbean decolonial thinkers, as an introduction to Wynter’s multifaceted life and work.

Sylvia Wynter. Photo courtesy New York Public Library

Sylvia Wynter is a Jamaican playwright and novelist best known for her diverse writings that pull together insights from theories in history, literature, science, and Black Studies to explore race, the legacy of colonialism, and representations of humanness. This in-depth interview highlights her insights on how race, location, and time inform what it means to be human. It was conducted by David Scott, editor of Small Axe, a Caribbean journal of criticism, in 1999.

Artist, writer, member of Laboria Cuboniks collective, co-author of The Xenofeminist Manifesto, and The New Normal visiting lecturer at Strelka Patricia Reed:

“Sylvia Wynter is a brilliant polymath who has deepened Foucault’s concept of the episteme to the point where it not only frames the historical disposition that determines the adjudication of what can count as knowledge and what can be questioned in the first place, but also institutes a certain ‘genre of being human’ along with it. For an introduction to her multifaceted life and work, I highly suggest searching for her long-form interview “The Re-Enchantment of Humanism.” She theorizes change as an interplay between the conceptual and the material; and plots how epistemic novelty can come to permeate all manner of sense-making, human self-understanding, and possibilities for mobility otherwise in the world. This epistemic novelty, however, only comes to permeate everyday life and its organizational forms when its ramifications are extended beyond its proper disciplinary confines, gesturing to the opening of a play-space demanding critical narrative intervention from us humble actors from the arts and humanities.”

You can read the full interview here.

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