Denise Ferreira da Silva
Relevant Degree Programs
Graduate Student Supervision
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
Difference speaks. This much can be readily assessed when one surveys the global politicaleconomiclandscape. In the context of the Americas, difference screams; whether from black orindigenous populations (or other marginalized and subjugated communities), their words havebeen receiving some attention in the era of widespread faith in Liberalism. The goal of this thesisis to interrogate what difference has meant, what it means, and what it can mean. By reviewingmajor works that tried to rearticulate difference in the 20th century and tracing the constructionof the current global reality through the articulation of the Modern Subject through difference,this work seeks to provide a critical account of how difference is deployed today, why it stillmeans violence, and why it can only signify death and dispossession while it is articulatedthrough differentiation. Finally, this thesis argues that something else is possible. That is, itpostulates that difference can be something other than differentiation and self-determination. Byengaging philosophy and critical race theory, I hope to excavate what lies within difference. Ialso examine two recent cases of violence in Brazil against its always already subjugated people- namely, black and indigenous populations. Finally, I propose that a shift in how difference isthought about, conceived of, perceived, and experienced is possible. To argue for this change, Itry to show that reality actually means something else through quantum physics, indigenousthought, and critical theory works which call for the release of imagination and from certainty.With this, I hope to reflect and provide help for the project of social justice.
This thesis reads Notting Hill Carnival as a symbolic iteration of the way that blackness is managed by the state. Tracking carnival’s riotous history, including the dampening of Claudia Jones’ legacy, the management crisis of 1976, and carnival’s ever-blossoming relationship with state and private capital, I explore how the event became embroiled in what Roderick Ferguson names, the “[pivot] in the history of power’s relationship to difference.” I then trace how this shift comes to affect later Race Relations legislation when I explore how the ghostly markers through which blackness is made permittable by the British state allows for the legal finding of Mark Duggan’s murder – the event that was said to have ‘sparked’ the riots. By analysing the inquest that sought to rule on the legality of the officer’s actions, I show how the inquest’s conclusions sustain black death through ‘just’ ideals of the rule of law: objectivity and rationality. Nevertheless, I argue that the threat to cancel Notting Hill Carnival after the London Riots reveals that, despite the limits of these liaisons and the state’s attempts to manage blackness through these standards, something radical remains within Notting Hill Carnival, something radical that the rioters were able to mobilize. By listening to the calls of the London Riots as embodied in two statements, “I ain’t gonna wear none of this shit,” and “the most exciting two nights of my life,” I explore the ways that the rioters were able to confront the challenges that blackness faces, through responding to the postcolonial hauntings of Notting Hill Carnival and refuting the logics of modern knowledge that the management of blackness supports, through their own imagining otherwise: the (dis)orderly and (ir)rational logics of burning, looting and radical space claiming.
This thesis takes as its starting point the continued violence against transgender and non-binary people of colour and Two-Spirit people in the United States. I first address theories of racialization and racism, drawing on the work of Andrea Smith to identify three subsets of white supremacy: anti-blackness, settler colonialism, and xenophobia. Next, I define patriarchal cisgenderism as the system of oppression that privileges toxic masculinity and denigrates femininity and gender variance. These two intersecting systems of oppression, white supremacy and patriarchal cisgenderism, combine within necropolitical US nation-building and are manifested in the prison industrial complex, the Native reservation system, and immigration enforcement, which are each aligned primarily with anti-blackness, settler colonialism, and xenophobia, respectively. These manifestations of white supremacy and patriarchal cisgenderism constitute and incite state-sanctioned violence that especially targets trans and non-binary people of colour and Two-Spirit people. The prison industrial complex, the Native reservation system, and immigration enforcement are analyzed in both their commonalities and specificities in order to show how they are structured by white supremacy and patriarchal cisgenderism. The final chapter of the thesis posits non-compliance and performing otherwise as modes of embodied resistance against necropolitical US nation-building. By highlighting performance art and activism by transgender and non-binary people of colour, I show how performing otherwise constitutes a form of resistance from which activists can and should learn. I assert that resistance to the white supremacy and patriarchal cisgenderism of necropolitical US nation-building must be led by transgender and non-binary people of colour and Two-Spirit people since they are most impacted by these systems of oppression.
In a time of global neoliberal precarity that follows from perpetual war, uncontracted labour, and heightened forced global migration to name a few contemporary violences, there has been a noticeable rise of protest both nationally and also localized to university campuses in the United States. Experiencing the historical weight of racism, classism, sexism, ableism, and nationalism on college campuses, students are claiming public and digital spaces as sites of resistance. These movements trace connections to the accomplishments of the civil and academic rights movements of the 1960s, by again and still asking for institutional responses to white supremacy and systems of oppression (Ferguson, 2012) while realizing they take different shapes due to the international, national, and local forces that call them into being. This paper provides some preliminary mapping of the student activist and institutional responses to student movements. Necessarily, my work also historicizes the how the university is shaped by national and global political and economic violence and structures—namely, neoliberalism and empire. Using feminist, queer, and critical race theory as my theoretical and methodological frameworks, I examine two case studies of student protest: The University of California, San Diego of 2009 and the University of Missouri in 2015. I ask questions about the production of student political subjectivity, as both process and product. Using what Guattari and Rolnik (2008) term capitalist subjectivity, I am particularly interested in analyzing how a particular, perhaps alternate kind of student (activist) political subject(ivity) emerges in/out of confrontation with the university’s normative student subjectivity, but nonetheless constituted in relation to it. This thesis works within a historico-political moment (2009-2015), and hopes to both interrogate and understand the university, its strategic gains for social justice, and what we make of its role in the here and now.