"In the early twentieth century, young black women were in open rebellion. A social revolution unfolded in the city. Hartman’s book explores the ways young black women created forms of intimacy and kinship indifferent to the dictates of respectability, and outside the bounds of law. They cleaved to and cast off lovers, exchanged sex to subsist, and revised the meaning of marriage. Longing and desire fueled their experiments in how to live. They refused to labor like slaves or to accept degrading conditions of work. In Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Hartman narrates the story of this radical transformation of black intimate and social life, crediting young black women with shaping a cultural movement that transformed the urban landscape. Combining historical analysis and literary imagination, Hartman recovers radical aspirations and resurgent desires." (saidiyahartman.com)


I find definitions of community in relation to politics confusing. I find rigid ideologies suspect, and any adherence to them is a scratch worth itching—maybe enough to draw blood. I can’t stand monumentalizing an individual but am deferential to respecting subjectivity and extolling the value of lived experience. I care to know the dimensions of what community can mean, often in terms of trust, empathy, interpersonal dynamics related to power, and self-organization by shared beliefs.

In my time in CRG the reading has been leaned toward an abstract/theoretical tone in discussions of community—a bit super-structure oriented. So, I’ve suggested books focusing on the experience of subjective identities as an anchor in the service of CRG’s exploration of community. I’m curious to see how this will tip the balance of our conversations, especially considering the frameworks of knowledge that group members have benefited from reading thus far.

– Simone Montemurno