Sounds at the End/Beginning of the World: Black Gay Habits of Mind


  • Rebecka Rehnström


In his recent book, There's a Disco Ball Between Us, Jafari S. Allen presents a history of what he names “Black gay habits of mind”. Despite moving between various places around the world, this work is more “an ethnography of an idea” than multi-sited fieldwork. A key inspiration for this approach could be Audre Lorde’s neologism “Blackfullness”, “the space of possibility and belonging beyond any particular place” (p. 325n2). Allen emphasizes the importance poetry, music, art, novels, theory, and historiography have to the archive of Black political philosophy, not least of the long 1980s. He takes us to the time of the 1980s AIDS crisis, the before and after, the ends and beginnings, for the “more possible”. The title, borrowed from the artist Wura-Natasha Ogunji and further inspired by performance artist and impresario Kevin Aviance, speaks of losses and desires. In these numerously colored lights of the disco ball, communicating at various angles/times, Allen writes a theory of Black gay life.

Author Biography

Rebecka Rehnström

Rebecka Rehnström has a BSc and MSc in Social Anthropology from Stockholm University. She is interested in feminist and queer athropology, material and visual culture, LGBTQ+, activism and performance.