Black Studies Seminar Series presents Dr Karen Salt – States of Blackness Wed 22 Feb 2017 – 1-3 pm @BCU room C510

Free eventBook your tickets here

States of Blackness

This talk grapples, cautiously, with black sovereignty and draws much of its energy from my writings on Haiti’s unfinished sovereign revolution. Although I use the term black sovereignty, I do not deploy it, lightly, or use it without some trepidation. I recognize the vexed and problematic nature of reducing the complexities of sovereign power and the performances of it on the global stage into an amorphous (even as it may be generative and politically cohering), socially constructed racial category of distinction. Yet, we need to understand the ways that race and nation politically work together at the international level in order to fully comprehend the political histories of nations such as Haiti, Abyssynia and Liberia—whose 19th century exceptionalism marked them as different. Balancing this searching for with a critique of the failings of the frames of race and international relations is a difficult—some would even argue impossible—task. But these histories must be told. Although this talk will centre on Haiti’s political struggle, it will also argue for the creation of frameworks that allows us—scholars, activists, critics and casual observers alike—to attune our instruments of knowing (spirit, critical thinking, rhythms, etc.) in order to bear witness to the power of black sovereignty and the stultifying aspects of black nullification that exist within transnational sovereignty’s roots.

Dr Karen Salt

Dr Karen Salt is Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham and heads up the new PhD degree in Black Studies. A significant portion of her work investigates the history of black sovereignty as exhibited and performed by black nation-states (such as Haiti and Liberia). Karen is a scholar of race, sovereignty, power and politics, and looks in particular at how those issues intersect in the Caribbean and African diaspora.


Under Your Nose’ (16), Curzon Building (BCU), 6:30pm

Later in the evening we are also screening Under Your Nose’. Where and when was the world’s first Black Lesbian and Gay Centre opened? Here, in Britain, back in the turbulent 80s of Thatcherism, AIDS, and Section 28.

Under Your Nose documents the struggles to set up this safe space. Appearing as part of Birmingham LGBT & SHOUT Festival’s LGBT History Month Festival, UNMUTED has teamed up with Birmingham City University’s Black Studies Research Cluster and LGBT+ Staff Network, together with the University of Birmingham’s Staff Rainbow Network, to welcome to Birmingham Veronica McKenzie, to screen her film, and to facilitate discussion about it, across the boundaries between generations.

Tickets are FREE but please reserve your place as there is now a waiting list. For further details please contact UNMUTED

Full details about Birmingham LGBT History Festival can be found by visiting