Making Sanctuary: A Posthumanist Micro-politics of Getting Lost in Fluid Times
The so-called Anthropocene is a period that troubles the hyper-centrality of the human figure. One way to respond to this time is to decenter the human as the rational, self-evident ground that anchors meaning and value in the universe. Recalling and reformulating words spoken to him by Yoruba priests while conducting his doctoral research many years ago – “In order to find our way, we must become lost – generously lost” – Bayo Akomolafe speaks about his concept of “making sanctuary” as world-building with/in the ruins of our presumptions of superiority, as a decolonial attempt to think seriously and playfully with the times, as an animist, counter-modern, Afro-diasporic-inspired attempt to stray away from the calculable algorithms of a politics of visibility and recognition. Drawing from insights and openings generated when he gathered 600 participant-researchers around the world to study “making sanctuary” with him in the latter months of 2020, Bayo Akomolafe conjures an age of fugitivity and calls for a weird politics in keeping with the awkwardness of our times.
Bayo Akomolafe (PhD) was born in 1983 into a Christian home, and to Yoruba parents in western Nigeria. Losing his diplomat father to a sudden heart complication, Bayo became a reclusive teenager, seeking to get to the “heart of the matter” as a response to his painful loss. After meeting with traditional healers as part of his quest to understand trauma, mental wellbeing and healing in new ways, his deep questions and concerns for decolonized landscapes congealed into a life devoted to exploring the nuances of a “magical” world “too promiscuous to fit neatly into our fondest notions of it.”
Now living between India and the United States, Bayo is a father of Alethea Aanya and Kyah Jayden Abayomi. He is married to EJ, his dear life-partner of Indian descent.
In 2014, Dr. Akomolafe was invited to be the Special Envoy of the International Alliance for Localization, a project of Ancient Futures (USA). He left his lecturing position in Covenant University, Nigeria to help build this Alliance. Bayo has been Visiting Professor at Middlebury College, where he taught on his own formulated concepts of ‘transraciality’ and postactivism. He has also taught at Sonoma State University (CA, USA), Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada), and Schumacher College (Totnes, England) – among other universities around the world. He currently lectures at Pacifica Graduate Institute, California and University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont.
Bayo is a widely celebrated international speaker, teacher, public intellectual, essayist and author of two books, These Wilds Beyond our Fences: Letters to My Daughter on Humanity’s Search for Home (North Atlantic Books) and We Will Tell our Own Story: The Lions of Africa Speak. He is also the Executive Director and Chief Curator for The Emergence Network and host of the online course, ‘We Will dance with Mountains’.