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As a critical theorist and scholar of Black comparative literary, visual, and cultural studies, her goal is to foreground the vibrancy of Black aesthetics without reinscribing a chimeric value to the import of Black radical intellectual and social life. Offering a counterpoint to affirmationist trends that promote pleasure and fugitivity as psycho-political modalities of liberation, Terrefe’s projects map the trajectory of their theorizations within multiple discourses of the unconscious whose methods of articulation and refusal cannot escape the antiblack engineering of the weltanschauung within which they are conceived.

Her current manuscript, Impossible Blackness: Violence and the Psychic Life of Slavery, begins with a simple question: What fantasies must be harnessed in order to satisfy affective demands that elaborate racial violence into narrative of possibility? To address this query, her book deploys psychoanalytic interventions centering on anti-Black violence to generate alternative paradigms of thought regarding race, sex/gender, the Black intramural, and revolutionary politics.




While a section of the manuscript has appeared in a special issue of Theory and Event on “Black Feminism and Afro-Pessimism,” “Speaking the Hieroglyph: Black Women and Mimetic Thaumaturgy,” her article in Critical Philosophy of Race, “The Pornotrope of Decolonial Feminism,” continues to place into relief the ideological and rhetorical investments in deploying the figure of the Black woman, but only to erase this figure from the political and affective registers of its theorization.

Terrefe’s transnational scholarship has drawn international attention in the form of invitations to present her work at: University College, Dublin; the University of Chicago in Paris, the University of Toulouse, and the University Institute of France, Paris’ (virtual) Diasporas: d’une terre, l’autre, Dialogues Transdisciplinaires; the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry and The Max Plank Institute in Goettingen, Germany; and within the US at Northwestern, Columbia University, and Dartmouth.



Terrefe’s future research takes account of the unique ways in which Black women, girls, and children suffer under contemporary regimes of captivity. Her second book project, conceptualized as “The Semio(n)tics of Blackness,” investigates Black people’s aesthetic and political responses to the recognition of themselves as products of non-Black people’s phobias and desires. Maintaining that Black death operates as both law and its limit, by extension illuminating as much about law’s relationship to desire as it does the relationship between black death and desire, she opens her initial provocations with literary and visual articulations of Black childhood.

Contact Dr. Terrefe >>>
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