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Zakiyyah Iman Jackson on race, species and becoming human

  • March 25, 2021

To highlight the International Day Against Racism, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson takes the floor to share her innovative thinking on the intricate relations between race, species and the idea of ‘the human’.

In her thought-provoking book Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World, she scrutinizes key African American, African and Caribbean cultural texts. She argues they generate conceptions of ‘being’ that disrupt the human-animal distinction that persistently reproduces the racial logics of the West. Jackson questions the emancipatory promise of ‘humanization’ and proposes a new understanding of being that neither relies on animal abjection to define the human nor reestablishes the need to be recognized as ‘proper human’ within liberal humanism as an antidote to racialization.


This event is part of a range of activities in continuation of the yearly tradition to highlight the International Day Against Racism at the VUB initiated by the Race & Research Network in 2020.



20:00   Introduction by Tundé Adefioye
20:10   Zakiyyah Iman Jackson: Architectures of the Flesh
20:40   Q&A with the Zoom-audience, moderated by Tundé Adefioye
21:10   Closing words by Tundé Adefioye



Zakiyyah Iman Jackson is an assistant professor of English at the University of Southern California. Her research explores the literary and figurative aspects of Western philosophical and scientific discourse and investigates the engagement of African diasporic literature and visual culture with the historical concerns, knowledge claims, and rhetoric of Western science and philosophy. Jackson obtained her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Tundé Adefioye is a performing arts dramaturg and teacher. He is a Nigerian-American based in Belgium. He co-founded the youth platform Urban Woorden in Leuven and was awarded the Prize for Cultural Education by the Flemish Government. From 2016 to 2020 he worked as city-dramaturg for KVS. In 2020 he was co-editor of the VUB Poincaré book Migration, Equality & Racism.


*This event is organized in partnership with the Race and Research Network, Crosstalks and Kaaitheater. Please, register here.


Image: (c) Nandipha Mntambo, Europa (2008)