The Undercommons and Destituent Power

*UPDATE 3/17/20*

The Undercommons & Destituent Power Symposium scheduled to happen at Indiana University from March 26th-28th is officially cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organizers are working to reschedule the conference for Fall 2020. Stay tuned.

— The Organizing Committee


On March 26-28, 2020, Indiana University’s annual Critical Ethnic Studies symposium will bring into dialogue two fields of insurgent study: the undercommons and destituent power.

To explore social life that evades political constraints, such as citizenship, sovereignty, and governance, we turn to the groundbreaking work of Fred Moten, Stefano Harney and Giorgio Agamben.

This para-institutional forum grows up from the roots of the Black radical tradition and Italian autonomia, to collect and share what we’ve learned from the practices and forms of life that are already breaking free of politics.

Through fugitive movement, contemplation, Black study, inoperativity, resonances between the last decade’s revolts, and other grounded reimaginations, we find what it means to let go of inherited political orders and to extend beyond them, toward the indissolubly common life that can be located in destitution and in refuge.

We’ve been deeply moved by the response we’ve received to the conference’s proposal and our call for papers.

We will release a preliminary schedule next week, but for now, we wanted to offer a few more details to make travel planning easier.

We’d like to offer our gratitude to everyone who sent in proposals, as well as regret that we could not fit more into the weekend. It will be up to everyone participating in these conversations to figure out how to expand them and open them up via novel forms for the future.

The first events will be Thursday (3/26) afternoon at 2 PM. These will include an opening for the arts track of the conference, as well as a welcoming reception. The first of the evening keynotes will be at 6:30, and the first speaker will be Fred Moten. The next two days will be dense with panels, plenaries, events, performances, and arts track workshops. The final evening keynote, on Saturday (3/28) will be by participants of the Mauvaise Troupe collective.

All are welcome to attend this free conference. We are striving to create spaces for passionate and equitable engagement.

We will have free meals and snacks for all attendees, and it would mean a lot to us if you could help us prepare for the correct number of participants, by registering at

See you next month!

Speakers and presenters include: Fred Moten, Frederic Neyrat, Laura Harris, Mikkel Bolt-Rasmussen, Adam Kotsko, Dylan Rodriquez, Daniel Nemser, Jackie Wang, Robert Hurley, Mauvaise Troupe Collective, Brian Whitener, Nzingha Kendall, Luhuna Carvalho, Mårten Björk, Idris Robinson, Matt Peterson, Liz Kinnamon, Ricardo Noronha, Alessandro Palmieri, Alessandro Lucera, Alex Chambers, Jose Rosales, Sonali Gupta, Emergent Distribution, Giovanni Marmont, Vitalist International, Nick Smaligo, Curtis Hawley, Kevin Suemnicht, Kai Parker, Cole Nelson, Sam Law, Melayna Lamb, Patrick Kindig, José Luis Morales Suarez, Çaca Yvaire, OD Enobabor, Ross Gay, Alex Dubilet, J. Kameron Carter, Edgar Illas, Eric Bordeleau, David Silverberg, Jerome Baschet, L. Renee, El Williams III, Sabrina Ghaus, Ronnie Whaley, A. Y. Deller, Laura Silverman, Matthew McBride, Stuart Smithers, Philippe Blouin, Matthew Mautarelli, Michael Krimper, David Kishik, Rosie Stockton, Kieran Aarons, Josep Rafanell i Orra, Essence London

Sponsored by: The Susan D. Gubar Chair in Literature, College Arts & Humanities Institute, Office of the Vice President for International Affairs, the Departments of American Studies, History, English, Germanic Studies, and Anthropology at IU-Bloomington, the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association Arts Program, and IU Cinema’s Creative Collaborations Program.