Zakiyyah Iman Jackson is the author of Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World (NYU Press, 2020). Her research explores the literary and figurative aspects of Western philosophical and scientific discourse and investigates the engagement of African diasporic literature and visual culture with the historical concerns, knowledge claims, and rhetoric of Western science and philosophy. Jackson has published in Feminist Studies; Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Science; Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience; South Atlantic Quarterly (SAQ); e-flux; and twice in Gay and Lesbian Quarterly (GLQ).
Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World is part of NYU Press’s Sexual Cultures series. It argues that key African American, African, and Caribbean literary and visual texts generate conceptions of being and materiality that creatively disrupt a human-animal distinction that persistently reproduces the racial logics and orders of Western thought. These texts move beyond a critique of bestialization to generate new possibilities for rethinking ontology: our being, fleshly materiality, and the nature of what exists and what we can claim to know about existence. Jackson argues that the texts and artistic practices featured in Becoming Human generate alternative possibilities for reimaging (human) being because they neither rely on animal abjection to define the human, nor reestablish “human recognition” within liberal humanism as an antidote to racialization. Ultimately, Becoming Human reveals the pernicious peculiarity of reigning foundational conceptions of “the human” rooted in Renaissance and Enlightenment humanism and expressed in current multiculturalist alternatives. What emerges from this questioning is a generative, unruly sense of being/knowing/feeling existence.