In 1966, Leroi Jones, soon to be Amiri Baraka, outlined 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 Hall, 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 within 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
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