Nov 25, 2023, 17:00-20:00
Ecology / Decolonisation / Race / Migration / Borders / Art / Activism / Music / Land
Black Atlantic / Open City
Empire Lines

Alternative description text goes here

The episode was recorded live at the Black Atlantic Weekend in Plymouth - a series of talks and live performances celebrating the 30th anniversary of Paul Gilroy’s formative text - in November 2023.

Listen at the link: EMPIRE LINES: The Black Atlantic, Paul Gilroy (1993-Now) (EMPIRE LINES Live, with Radical Ecology) on Apple Podcasts

Decolonial thinker Professor Paul Gilroy joins EMPIRE LINES live in Plymouth, to chart thirty years since the publication of The Black Atlantic, his influential book about race, nationalism, and the formation of a transoceanic, diasporic culture, of African, American, British, and Caribbean heritages.

Published in 1993, Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness explores the interconnectedness of Black diasporas and communities across Western/Europe. He argues that the experience of slavery and colonisation, racism and global migration has shaped a unique Black cultural identity that transcends national borders.

By examining the cultural contributions of Black individuals in music, literature, and art, Paul suggests that the Black Atlantic remains a site of resistance and creativity. Highlighting the plural and complex experiences of Black people throughout history and today, he challenges the notion of a singular, essential Black identity. We consider some of the transdisciplinary artist-activist-academics referenced in his texts, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Stuart Hall, and James Baldwin, to more contemporary figures, like Nadia Cattouse, bell hooks, and June Jordan, and Angeline Morrison. Plus, Paul talks about his early interests in music journalism, research into Black jazz and blues music, as well as British folk and country songs - and even Eminem.

We consider Paul’s engagements with Critical Race Theory, and Cultural Studies in Birmingham in the Midlands, and how his practice challenges ideas of Black nationalism, Afro-centrism, and political Blackness. We discuss too his ideas about afro-pessimism and planetary humanism, and how capitalism, militarism, and the environment has changed over the last thirty years. A self-described ‘child of Rachel Carson’, he details his support for Extinction Rebellion, and the obligation of older generations to find hope in an era of climate and ecological crises. Finally, Paul describes his ‘Creole upbringing’ in north London, connecting with his Guyanese heritage in the multicultural, cosmopolitan city, and how his mixed parentage shaped his relationship with rural landscapes, including the south-west of England, from where we speak.