We Will Dance With Mountains: Let Us Make Sanctuary with Bayo Akomolafe

 

These materials are being made available for free. If you'd like to offer some gratitude in the form of financial support, please make a donation to The Emergence Network here.

Call Recordings

Session 1 | 18 October:

(Only a brief excerpt of the session is offered here, about 10 minutes long)

Invitation:

Before listening to the recording, we invite everyone to move in the immediacy of their environments, in the moment of where they are, and toward the direction of an “object that calls you” - something precious, a gift, an item. It should be something that holds some meaning to you but that you are willing to let go of as you will be asked to give it away. Listen. When you find (and are found) by this specific item, be with this object as you watch the recording. 

After the recording, we everyone to hold their items, and story it (almost like layering it) with their most pressing and abiding convictions and expectations. Hold it close and speak to it for the first ten minutes. Then give it away, dispense with it, sacrifice this gift, let it go - in a way that the land wants you to.  

Post-Session Invitation (to be done in a group):

1. Write what is emerging for you after watching the recording: Questions? Insights? Ideas?

2. In your emerging text, notice what is present as you write: tables, pens, a cup of coffee perhaps, a purring cat, etc. Account for them in your text – not simply as backgrounded objects but active co-creators of the thick now you all are doing together. 

3. Meet with your group and experiment with reading these insights into each other. Notice the places of breaks and
discontinuities in your shared readings, the places of divergence – and the sites of resonance. Don’t try to reduce them to each other – just note them and account for them.

4. Take your text in your private reading: what emerges from it that wasn’t there prior to the kinship diffraction process?

If you don’t understand this process, it’s okay. I would like you to try something even if you haven’t figured it out completely. I would like you to linger at the “edges of incompetence” long enough for you to be met by surprise. Try it.

Guardar

Guardar

Guardar

Guardar

Guardar

Guardar

Guardar

Guardar

Guardar

Guardar

Session 2 | 1 November:

Journaling prompts:
1. Remember an ancestor (human or otherwise) who supports you to be in the not-knowing
2. What is something about yourself that cannot be tracked? What about your lineage cannot be archived?
___
1. Where in your own life are you encountering the gap between where you are, and where you want to be?
2. How might you cultivate intimacy with that distance, if you can’t transcend it?

Post-Session Invitation

When we navigate the world, we typically depend on sight as the predominant means of obtaining information about the world. This is of course different for those who do not use the eyes but use other senses to meet the world. Without prejudice to those who might be hard of hearing or have some form of hearing loss, I want to invite a listening exercise. For a few hours a day – for as many days as you can manage it – conspire with those in close proximity to you to have yourself blindfolded in a location of your choosing. During the time of being blindfolded, listen. Listen to the world around you. Listen to how things rub off on one another, to textures, sounds, colours. Yes, listen to colours. How does angry sound? Use listening to re-enter the world often lost behind the dominance of sight-as-data-as-truth. At the end of your exercise of becoming-animal, write down what you have listened to or are listening to. When you meet with your group, share what emerged for you and co-create a similar exercise for decoupling our sensorial apparatuses.

Session 3 | 15 November:

Journaling prompts:
What are all the ways that you are not you, that you are outside yourself?
What are moments when you haven't behaved like yourself?

Post-Session Invitation

[Gather alien bodies to yourself and dedicate some time to reading through the above text. Meet with your kinship group and share your reflections on this reading with each other. Then attempt to respond to/with the questions below. Feel free to index your own questions alongside these proposed ones below.]

  • What are the gifts and shadows of identity politics, and how does a particular reading of the structural limitations of identity politics call for "fugitive exile"?
  • What do we do with our many failures to achieve the justice the systems we inhabit have promised us? Why do we feel so stuck?
  • Who is the racist, and in what way is the appellation of the “racist” already a performance of dissociative anthropocentrism?
  • How is trauma a more-than-human ecological principle?
  • What new opportunities, openings and obstacles to social justice are presented to us by the reading from transraciality?
  • Are there other places of power that we can turn to? What might that look like?
  • What can we learn from the failures of modern African states in the post-independence era, and what might an Afro-Atlantic conversation with diasporic communities teach us about emancipation within oppressive regimes?
  • As a person from a minority group, have you ever had the experience of being censored for not using the right phrase, term, or word in relation to other target groups?
  • What lies beyond justice?
  • What does it mean to slow down in times of urgency?
  • What do the concepts of postactivism, transraciality, becoming-black, and making sanctuary offer to our movements for a better world? What new problems and shadows do they create?
  • To be fully designated is to lose touch of our migrancy in an epistemology of stable identities and sealed off becomings. What does this statement bring up for you?

Session 4 | 29 November:

(This recording features a teaching from David Abram. Learn more about David's work here.)

Journaling prompt:
Where are you stuck?

Post-Session Invitation

Find a broken place. Listen to those cries and the baying of the dogs... No, listen now to the great howling of the wolves. Magnificent, almost sublime, emanating from vertical legs placed in a triangle on the ground and from the mouth lifted straight toward the sky, already strangely musical. No, listen, there, uglier, raw, as though broken, to the chattering jackels. No, there, now, to the whistling of the wind. (Michael Serres, Biogea, 2012, p. 112)

Try listening to the cracks. Borrow other senses if you need to – it might be the first kindling steps to assembling your dis/inquiry project.

Session 5 | 6 December:
Session 5 was an open space block party and therefore, there is no recording to offer.

Group Exercise:

Trail of Enlivenment: Find the Ones that are Here. Who is here? Who are we receiving?  

One method, the Trail of Enlivenment, which I have been developing and deploying in collective intelligence creation circles, invites participants to ask questions they feel are important to them, and then to meet and interact with the ‘objects’ in their environment in a ‘new’ way – approaching them not as items to be studied but as kin and potential allies (or even disruptors) of one’s quest. The participants are then invited to keep returning to their initial questions and editing them, even if they feel the progressively newer iterations do not make any sense or more sense than the original questions. The process is designed for ontological expansion – to shake the researcher loose from the security of his or her imaginings.

I’d like you to embark on a trail of enlivenment together. How?

Write down three or more of your most pressing questions and keep this list aside. Then (preferably with a writing pad and pen), embark on a ‘listening pilgrimage’, beginning with any ordinary object immediately accessible to you, or in your vicinity.

Sit with the object, be curious about ‘it’. Instead of asking, ‘what is this object?’, ask ‘what is happening here?’, and then write down your impressions. What you write down should be in form of another question that continues the trail in connect-the-dots fashion. So, for instance, you may write (while sitting with a carrot) “How do I get my carrots?” or “Do other cultures experience orange the same way I do?” or “Does a carrot experience joy and other emotions?” These questions – like branches navigating away from a tree trunk – would in turn give birth to other questions which, eventually, may seem like they have absolutely nothing to do with your original object.

Keep following this trail of questions, prompted by your keen intra-actions with newer objects/concepts.

When saturated or unable to continue, go back to your pressing questions (the list you kept aside), and respond to them, adding to them, or taking note of any changes in how you’d frame them.

How might you practice this together within your group?

Session 6 | 13 December:

(This session recording features a beautiful musical performance by Instituto Favela da Paz. To support and listen to more of their work, check out Instituto Favela da Paz and Poesia Samba Soul on Facebook. Also featured in this recording is a teaching from Pat McCabe, Woman Stands Shining. To learn more about Pat, visit here.)

Journaling Prompt or Kinship Group Exercise:

Take a few moments to remember, to hold the faint and fleeting memories, names, moments, events, losses, and miracles that have attended/surrounded/haunted you this year. Materialize this remembering in form of a list, a way of accounting for these things. Feel free to list out names of persons who touched you, names of events that broke you, names of things that slip away from being named. 

Post-Session Notes:

This break, make sanctuary. The dream of this course has always been to coax the lonely flames of disarticulated bodies into a choir of fire, to ignite a network of sharing and unlearning together, a translocal planetary vocation of making sanctuary, fugitive-wide web of alchemizing approach and experiments with coming down to earth. The idea is of a practicable politics of going imperceptible, of becoming-unruly, becoming-animal.

This break I invite you to materialize “making sanctuary”, your end-time fugitive co-inquiry expedition into katabasis:

a. Make compassion your inquiry. Compassion is not simply being kind to another, or having sympathy for another. It is sitting-with another long enough to become-with another. In our times of migrancy and fluid fire and deep tensions, expand your circle of conversation to include the more-than-human world around you. Take “them” into your home as one might take a refugee into one’s home.

b. Conduct a feet-washing ceremony with members of your kinship group – or, if you don’t have one, with those who you invite to make sanctuary with you. To wash one’s feet and have one’s feet washed is to articulate our stunning mutuality and demonstrate the ways our bodies are dying into each other, cells mingling in murky brown water. It is to be committed to our shared demise, our unspeakable migrancy, our fugitivity.

c. Listen / feel for / touch the spots of disarticulation / the places where the promises of the normal fail woefully.

d. Decorate these cracks and let these be the heart of your kinship gatherings. Do this by creating a ritual around this decoration – one that honours the idea that we are not alone, that we need the others (non-human, inhuman, more-than-human, not-quite-human).

e. What questions are emerging? Embark on your quests of dis/inquiry and co-research. There is no one way to approach making sanctuary.

f. Share the points of your departure, how you are partnering with the world around you, and what practical questions and sites of power you are being invited to occupy. Share with other kinship groups and with us: courseteam@bayoakomolafe.net.

Session 7 | 10 January:

(This session recording features a teaching from Akilah Richards and her daughter, Marley. To learn more about Akilah's work, visit raisingfreepeople.com)

Journaling / Kinship Group Prompt:
Listen / feel for / touch the spots of disarticulation / the places where the promises of the normal fail woefully.

What questions are emerging? Embark on your quests of dis/inquiry and co-research. There is no one way to approach making sanctuary.

Share the points of your departure, how you are partnering with the world around you, and what practical questions and sites of power you are being invited to occupy.

Session 8 | 24 January:

Session 9 | 31 January:

Exercise:

"One isn't truly home until you meet your ghosts." So go outside to meet your ghosts in a gentle way.
OR
Go outside to tell something you believe, to a non human being, maybe tell the story of your experience of this class to a tree. Listen for what happens. See if you get your finger on some truth. You might hear something, but probably not. Take everything you've learned here, or the beauty, or the pain, the grief and the rage, the wisdom and go give it away. And don't hold on to it, because it doesn't want to be still. It doesn't want to be caught.