Posted on November 1, 2016
Ancestry Books is an emerging place-based project in organizing rooted in North Minneapolis that foregrounds the narratives of Indigenous authors and authors of color from left-literary and woman of color feminist traditions. We believe in the importance of the bookstore as a spatial intervention in underdeveloped geographies as well as the value of story-based strategies in organizing.
Our vision is to produce space for decolonial dreaming, study and practice. We see this spatial production as a vital component in the development, incubation and critical skill-building for historically aggrieved communities to advance other narrative possibilities about our bodies, relationships to each other, labor, and geography.
Dreaming: Capitalism, imperialism, white supremacy, hetero-patriarchy, abelism and a myriad of other systems of domination do not just occupy physical landscapes but also the critical space of our desires, our dreams. We believe that history provides examples of campaigns, interventions, and movements that ended up reproducing the material ills they sought to transform. In light of this we see decolonization, an open-ended process of transformation, as fundamental not only for matter but also mind.
Furthermore Ancestry Books adopts the frame of visionary fiction writers Walidah Imarisha & adrienne maree brown, namely, “that all organizing is science fiction.” We are not sure what a world without sexual abuse, a world without the exploitation of land and labor looks like and so we participate in the important work of envisioning that world with the understanding that imagining it precedes realizing it.
Study: We believe in rigorous study, in curiosity, in fugitive planning. For Ancestry Books this means that we recognize that the burden of knowledge is heavy, that there is much that we don’t know about, say for example, the social production of geographies like North Minneapolis. That there is an importance to study that informs and is informed by practice (work), a critical proximity, that if we are to dream of more just geographies and realize them we must also have some clarity about what brought us to where we are. We see this study as a political act of resistance, against forgetting, another intervention for what Viet Thanh Nguyen calls, “the strategic resource of memory.”
Practice: We believe in the importance of an engaged and critical proximity, that dreams and study are not enough to produce political interventions, a material practice must coincide with them, inform and be informed by them. Practice here is to be understood in the Freirean sense, “reflection and action directed at the structures to be transformed.”
For 2017-2021 Ancestry Books is committing our resources specifically to the study of the policies (structural social and economic neglect) and punitive measures that produced North Minneapolis as an underdeveloped geography. With this we will also be investing in identifying what are often the illegible, unseen spaces out of which historically aggrieved communities have struggled, loved and built alternative socialites.
We believe the kind of change we want to see in our chosen context, North Minneapolis, necessitates radical dreams, engaged study and committed practice. We see our role as partnering in the production of space where it is possible to “operate in the here and now but with radical long-term transformative vision.”
Ed. Maree Brown, Adrienne and Imarisha, Walidah. Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories For Social Justice Movements. Chico, AK Press, 2015. Print.
Harney, Stefano and Moten, Fred. The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study. Wivenhoe, Minor Compositions, 2013. Print.
Than Nguyen, Viet. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2016. 14, 15. Print.
Petti, Alessandro, Hilal, Sandi and Weizman, Eyal. Architecture After Revolution. Berlin, Sternberg Press, 2013. 27. Print.
Kelley, Robin. “Black Study, Black Struggle.” Boston Review: A Political And Literary Forum. http://bostonreview.net/forum/robin-d-g-kelley-black-study-black-struggle. Accessed 31 October 2016.