Kimberly Bain is the John Holmes Assistant Professor in the Humanities at Tufts University. She joined the Department of English in 2020 after earning a Ph.D. in English and Interdisciplinary Humanistic Study from Princeton University. Bain’s most pressing intellectual interests have consolidated around questions of the history, theory, and philosophy of: diaspora, race, gender, postcolonialism, enslavement, flesh, environmental racism, resistance, embodiment, and subjection and subjecthood. She is at work on her first book manuscript, On Black Breath, as well as several essays on pettiness and dirt.
On Black Breath traces a genealogy of breathing and Blackness in the United States. Deploying the concept Black breath as an analytic across multitemporal and nonchronological avenues, it recovers breath and breathing as foundational to the formation of “Blackness”—as both radical potential and as an object to be managed. Focusing on different phenomenologies of Black breathing (panting, coughing, gasping, sighing and conspiring) in social and cultural texts throughout modernity, I interrupt impulses toward the abstraction of violence against Black people and consider how mundane and invisible phenomena become the site of insidiously powerful regimes of control. On Black breath moves through dimensions of Black life and explores the unexpected corners of capitalism, race science, cultural production, political engagement, and coalition making.
Dirt: Soil and Other Dark Matter is Bain’s second book project. Building on her first project’s methodological commitments to multi-temporal and nonchronological avenues of inquiry, Dirt: Soil and Other Dark Matter revises the impulse to read metaphors of water and the oceanic as the singular heuristic for understanding Black movement, migration, and mobility throughout history, turning to dirt for understanding contemporary Black diasporic relations. An essay from this project is forthcoming.
kimberly.bain (at) tufts (dot) edu