On Birds & Kitchen Tables: Conversations of/in the Undercommons

“The weapon of theory is a conference of the birds. The kitchen table is its public and its publisher.” – Stefano Harney & Fred Moten

In the ten years since it was published, one of the most striking things about The Undercommons as a text was how it resonated, and continues to resonate, with different groups of people, from disenfranchised teaching assistants to precarious artists and political organizers. The patterns of circulation and engagement with it as a text provide an interesting example of undercommon sociality, or as Moten and Harney refer to it, black study.

To mark the tenth anniversary of the book’s publication Minor Compositions is planning a series of events, discussions about the book and how it resonates with people. Think of it as a conference of the birds, or maybe even literally a conversation around a kitchen table. Keeping in mind the ethos that informs the text these events will less be formal presentations, and more picking out selections from the text for reading and discussing together.

People will be invited to read out sections from the text that they found particularly compelling or interesting, and this will be used as a basis for a discussion. This moves the presentation of idea from a one to many relationship, the ‘call to order’ of traditional teaching methods, towards something more like a collective practice of reading and discussion, one that is more fitting with the concept of the undercommons. Keeping in mind the arguments put forward by Harney and Moten, it is a compilation of voices and readings, bringing together and building upon the text, as a form of study through circulation and engagement. The eventual goal of this is to produce something of an ‘audio book’ version, one that is composed not by the voice of one professional voice actor, but assembled from a motley crew of voices assembled many kitchen tables.

Dates / Times
May 3rd @ Online, 2PM UK Time
June 29th @ May Day Rooms, London
June 30th – July 1st, London Conference in Critical Thought

For more information email minorcompositions@gmail.com