Charles Athanasopoulos-Sugino has recently been published in Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism.
Second-year graduate student Charles Athanasopoulos-Sugino has recently been published in the Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism. Their article titled “Smashing the icon of Black Lives Matter: afropessimism & religious iconolatry” seeks to intervene in the critical conversations surrounding Black Lives Matter (BLM) to urge scholars to challenge the very political calculus from which we (dis)count lives and ascribe value or matter as a mechanism of anti-Black power. This essay argues that we must abandon the axiological framework of the Human, by situating the Human as the centerpiece of rituals of anti-Blackness that occur in the most basic of social interactions. In exploring ritual at the core of its operations Athanasopoulos-Sugino argues that anti-Blackness should be understood as a religious system. By focusing on one particular ritual known as iconolatry – the creation and extreme veneration of icons – this essay investigates the ways BLM has become an icon of resistance that is deployed in service of the anti-Black status quo. The article ends with the gesture towards an alternative praxis of Black Iconoclasm that ritually enacts a shattering of various icons of Humanism in favor of what Christina Sharpe calls the hold. Though the article is currently ahead of print it shall be featured in a special issue of Prose Studies titled #BlackLivesMatter: Pasts, Presents, and Futures. It can currently be found online by searching: