Fumi Okiji is an assistant professor in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. She works across black study, critical theory, and sound and music studies. Her research and teaching looks to black expression for ways to understand modern and contemporary life, which is to say, she explores works and practices for what they can provide by way of social theory. For instance, her book Jazz as Critique: Adorno and Black Expression Revisited (Stanford University Press, 2018) is a sustained engagement with Theodor Adorno’s idea concerning the critical potential of art. She proposes that the socio-musical play of jazz is not representative of the individualistic and democratic values, the music is most readily associated with. The book centers blackness as a more appropriate analytic through which to understand its social significance.
Deepening the engagement established in her first book, Okiji's current project, Billie’s Bent Elbow: The Standard as Revolutionary Intoxication, explores the features of a genre of socio-political gathering that does not rely on (non)identity nor on an insistence on a universal project. Drawing from Adorno and Walter Benjamin on aesthetic theory, music, dialectics, mimesis, this interlocution in turn provocative and affirming, she intervenes in key conversations taking place in black theory concerning the (im)possibility of social life and futility of political struggle.
The title of her three-day CTE Mini Seminar is Subjunctive, semblant, spectral and will be delivered from 4-6:00pm on October 4th-6th.