What does it mean to imagine life within the impossible conditions of Black death? In this conceptual and methodological talk, LaCharles Ward positions death as crucial object of study that performs cultural, political, and rhetorical work. In arguing that death is condition of possibility for thinking Black life, this talk claims that there is no way to write a history of Black life — present and past — if Black death is not rigorously attended to.
To chart a response to this and other questions, this talk turns to photography and Black feminist visual and artistic practices to imagine in spite of all.
LaCharles Ward is an educator, writer, and interdisciplinary scholar of black visual and cultural studies. He received his Ph.D. from the Rhetoric and Public Culture Program in the School of Communication at Northwestern University, where he also had a graduate affiliation in the Department of African American Studies. His research spans the areas of black visual culture as theory and method, black feminist theory, history and theories of photography, race and technology, materiality of death, and black protest cultures. His scholarship is driven by a refusal to allow the State and other death producing entities to have the last word on Black life. When he is not teaching or writing, you can find him exploring his hometown of Chicago, eating his way through every city he visits, spending ample time in art museums, cooking and hosting friends, and taking photographs that he has yet to share with the world.