Tag Archives: Salman Rana

Improvisation, Community and Social Practice (& a digression at the end on Lupe Fiasco) (& two links to music)

I just heard from former Osgoode student, now a McGill graduate student, Salman Rana.  Find out  more about Salman from this Canadian lawyer profile from 2008. Or watch this video of his ’08 track ft Kardinal Offishall,  Relate to Me.  He is at this Summer Institute 2012 | Improvisation, Community and Social Practice being held at Guelph U.

It sounds so interesting, on many levels.

Intended for students and scholars who have an interest in musical improvisation and its potential for dynamic forms of community building, the biennial Summer Institute marks the emergence of a new field of interdisciplinary work that promotes vibrant exchange and encourages new, socially responsive forms of community building across national, cultural and artistic boundaries. This year’s graduate level courses will explore the material effects that critical studies in improvisation can have on North American society, with an emphasis on the research themes: law and justice, pedagogy, and social policy.

The Summer Institute provides an unparalleled opportunity for graduate and post-graduate students from various disciplines, along with other interested participants, to come together and, over the course of two weeks, attend lectures and workshop their research interests with top scholars and artists in the field of Improvisation Studies. Each lecturer will bring different disciplinary viewpoints to the Institute, allowing for truly interdisciplinary work to take place. The Institute, being a site of innovative alliances, exposes participants to excellent training and networking opportunities.


Prof Imani Perry (JD PhD) is a scholar of law, culture and race.  She’s a  Professor at the Centre for African American Studies at Princeton.  She has an informative website (scroll down for pdf’s of her publications) here and tweets under @imaniperry.  NYU press published her More Terrible and More Beautiful: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States in 2011. I really enjoyed her suggestion of race as an architecture rather than a categorization in this 2005 article Of Desi, J. Lo and Color Matters: Law, Critical Race Theory the Architecture of Race 52 Clev. St. L. Rev. 139 (she has the full text on her website, see above).

In this article I want to posit two ways in which a critique of the black white binary leads us to understandings of race and racism that are useful for the struggles of all peoples of color. The first is, the critique should lead us to advocate for an understanding of race as an architecture rather than categorical. LatCrit scholarship has introduced questions of language, nationalism, citizenship and border-crossing as part of critical race theory. These categories bring to the fore some of the meta-narratives that are part of how race is constructed, beyond the four “racial” classifications. I use meta-narrative here to refer to those grand stories used in a culture in order to legitimize mechanisms of social control. A meta-narrative of race might not refer directly to race, but yet is still a narrative used to legitimize racist practice. The meta-narratives race found in language, geography, and color are highlighted for Latinos, who are multi-racial, multinational and largely multi-lingual, but are not exclusive to Latinos in being constitutive of racialized experience. These meta-narratives of race suggest that we should not simply understand race as a function of membership in one of the four (or five) categories, but as part of a complex structure, and that elements of that structure beyond racial classification, should become part of racial jurisprudence. This structure is what I call the architecture of

Can’t wait to hear more from Salman about the workshop. One can’t write about hip hop without writing about gender, in case you’re wondering.  Are you following the discussion of Lupe Fiasco’s latest (sorry, video starts with an ad)? For instance, here and here.  So because I am kind of a big fan  (all black everything on repeat, summer 2011, for instance) for people who doubt that music makes a special place for meaning and politics) i was very cheered to find colorlines Akiba Solomon taking a different view, here:

…I thought “Bitch Bad” was a decent, well-intentioned attempt at sorting out a complicated dynamic. I also fantasized about how much better the song would be if Fiasco had just tweaked the order of the hook to “bitch bad, lady good, woman better.”

I don’t love the track – lyrics aside, there just isn’t much to it for me – so I though i might not have to completely sort out how I feel about it.  But the debate is worth looking at.  When is it mansplaining, and when is it a real well intentioned attempt that falls slightly short. Huge difference.

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