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New Project: The Codex

Decks of French Slave Ship Aurore, 1784

The Codex is an attempt to process Atlantic slavery through application, code, and screen.

At present, there are three volumes:

Volume 1: Seeing Dark Matter explores black visual culture across time and space.  It is a blog on black diasporic visual literacy.

Volume 2: #ADPhD, an extension of African Diaspora, Ph.D., is an Atlantic slavery salon, open to all philosophes.  Archive,  scholarship, and historical study live there.

Volume 3: Diaspora Hypertext captures Atlantic slavery ephemera, the flotsam and jetsam of history, in present-day form.

New volumes are in the works.  The next will likely be related to free women of color but certainly one (or several) devoted to New Orleans are in order.

Each volume is rooted in Tumblr, a social media platform nearly impossible to archive (as of this posting) because there is no mechanism to capture the wave of reblogs, shares, and remediation that occurs as posts are published and distributed among friends and followers.  More than fluid, such dispersal defies the linear and stratified logic of a true codex.  Even the process of creating, changing, and destroying volumes at will contradicts the purpose of a codex which is to define and demarcate, validating and authorizing in the process.

But I am dealing with encounters of Atlantic slavery and these defy logic and narrative.  This history ripples across time and place but (has been) disappear(ed) from published accounts and everyday lexicon.  The Codex deliberately betrays “the lists” to create Atlantic African “diaspora catalogues.”  There is no linear here.  The only logic is ritual.

The Codex is open.  Follow. Share. Reblog at will.

More to come.

Suggested Reading: Katherine McKittrick. ‘I Entered the Lists…Diaspora Catalogues: The List, The Unbearable Territory, and Tormented Chronologies—Three Narratives and a Weltanschauung.’: XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics, 17, (2007): 7-29.

Image Credit: “Decks of French Slave Ship Aurore, 1784,” as shown on, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library. (Click image for details). From the website: “This illustration was apparently produced expressly for the exhibition in Nantes, and was done by Jean Boudriot; it is a composite of two of his earlier drawings which were first published in his Traite et Navire Negrier lAurore (Paris: published by author, 1984), pp. 38-39, 46-47.”

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