2023-01Thematic Section
Collective Improvisations: Amiri Baraka and the Articulation of Blackness Across Socio-Cultural Movements


In 1966, Leroi Jones, soon to be Amiri Baraka, outline​d​ a program to reorient the philosophical underpinnings of ​Black study. Modes of inhabiting and thereby constructing the domains in which one participates were revealed as a function of one’s mode of expression. ​Jones/Baraka proposed that blackness ​was expressed by ​the operation of a collective improvisation. How​​ can improvisation, traditionally conceived as an individual activity, be a collective process? Taking our cue from articulation theory and the request that it be formalized by Stuart ​H​all, we explore what may superficially seem counter-intuitive but​ is able to be modeled​ ​by way of an explanation of its generative syntactic structure. In so doing, puzzles associated with identity theory, intersubjectivity, and ​modalities​ of expression are revealed as not ​as intractable​ as they are assumed to be, especially​ with​in​ the discipline of Black studies.


improvisation, Leroi Jones, Amiri Baraka, functional content, identity theory, intersubjectivity

How to cite:

Peterson II, Victor. “Collective Improvisations: Amiri Baraka and the Articulation of Blackness Across Socio-Cultural Movements.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 7, no. 1 (2023):  6-25. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2023.0002.


Victor Peterson II
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
30 Cooper Sq, New York, NY 10003, USA


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