The pandemic has been the most vivid agent of change that many of us have known. But it has not changed everything: plenty of the institutions, norms, and practices that sustain racial capitalism, settler colonialism, and cisheteropatriarchy have either weathered the storm of the crisis or been nourished by its effects. And yet enough has changed for us to see that the pandemic has profoundly recontextualised those structures and systems of violence, bringing us into a fresh negotiation with, for example, the question of how we discuss and imagine freedom. Responding in part to this unexpected provocation, activist-scholars Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson forged a collaboration from the lockdown of 2020, corresponding by letter to create their forthcoming book, Rehearsals for Living, due to be published by Haymarket Books (US) and Knopf (Canada) in 2022. In this interview, we asked them to explain the epistolary form of the book and expand on the concept of “rehearsal”, before inviting them to reflect on a series of issues that animate our current crises: the politics of recognition; the notion of apocalypse; ways to disrupt linear temporalities; practises of reciprocity against proprietary logics; the gendered violence of state apparatuses; and worldbuilding as a method of resistance. In their expansive answers, Robyn and Leanne draw on their experiences as organisers and educators, commenting on anticolonial struggles, the Movement for Black Lives, and the rise of abolition discourse. Stressing the need to build a multiplicity of shared homespaces in the face of racial/colonial capitalism and organized abandonment, they challenge us to rethink the predicaments and possibilities of the present, enabling us to imagine futures liberated of extractivist, carceral governance – “planting more liberatory futures in the present”, as Robyn puts it. The task of sowing those seeds is a collective praxis of rewriting the narratives that constitute us, refusing to hear that nothing can change and insisting that everything must.
|Journal||Interfere: Journal for Critical Thought and Radical Politics|
|Publication status||Published - 19 Nov 2021|
- radical politics
- prison abolition
- political activism
- Black studies
- Indigenous studies