Nathalie Etoke on Joy as “Rebellious Vitality”
In Conversation with Paul Holdengräber
on The Quarantine Tapes
Hosted by Paul Holdengräber, The Quarantine Tapes chronicles shifting paradigms in the age of social distancing. Each day, Paul calls a guest for a brief discussion about how they are experiencing the global pandemic.
On Episode 176 of The Quarantine Tapes, Paul Holdengräber is joined by author Nathalie Etoke. Recorded during the time of the historic trials surrounding the death of George Floyd, Nathalie expands on the way that the pandemic has brought into focus many things that were dormant. In this moment of reckoning, Nathalie expertly addresses the truth about what shapes racism, and asks us all to consider what are the consequences of imperialism on our notions of collective human culture.
Paul and Nathalie continue to dig into the challenging questions that explore how to be human in a dehumanized world, and how we experience the fullness of life, in the face of death and disaster. Nathalie also shares a passage from her new book called Shades of Black, soon to be published in April 2021, by Seagull Books, and the pair discuss further ways we create the connection to living with history, and the need to find a way to get along, to live together and share it.
From the episode:
Nathalie Etoke: What do you do with life when you quote-unquote don’t get what you want? Or it doesn’t look like what you expect it to be. Life is still happening. When I talk about joy, I’m actually describing a disciplined state of mind in constant revolt against madness and death. That’s what I mean. It’s not like, oh, I’m happy, because at the end of the day, maybe your circumstances will not make you happy. But what about that dissident state of mind in constant revolt against madness and death? So joy, here, is a kind of rebellious vitality.
To listen to the episode, as well as the whole archive of The Quarantine Tapes, subscribe and listen on iTunes or wherever else you find your favorite podcasts.
Nathalie Etoke is Associate Professor of Francophone and Africana Studies at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her articles have appeared in Research in African Literatures, French Politics and Culture, Nouvelles Études Francophones, Présence Francophone, the International Journal of Francophone Studies, and the Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy.
She is the author of L’Écriture du corps féminin dans la littérature de l’Afrique francophone au sud du Sahara and of Melancholia Africana the Indispensable Overcoming of The Black Condition which won the Frantz Fanon Prize from the Caribbean Philosophical Association. In 2011, she directed Afro Diasporic French Identities, a documentary on race, identity and citizenship in contemporary France. Her upcoming book Shades of Black will be published in April 2021.