The Hawthorn Archive, named after the richly fabled tree, has long welcomed the participants in the various Euro-American social struggles against slavery, racial capitalism, imperialism, and authoritarian forms of order. The Archive is not a library or a research collection in the conventional sense but rather a disorganized and fugitive space for the development of a political consciousness of being indifferent to the deadly forms of power that characterize our society. Housed by the Archive are autonomous radicals, runaways, abolitionists, commoners, and dreamers who no longer live as obedient or merely resistant subjects.
In this innovative, genre- and format-bending publication, Avery F. Gordon, the “keeper” of the Archive, presents a selection of its documents—original and compelling essays, letters, cultural analyses, images, photographs, conversations, friendship exchanges, and collaborations with various artists. Gordon creatively uses the imaginary of the Archive to explore the utopian elements found in a variety of resistive and defiant activity in the past and in the present, zeroing in on Marxist critical theory and the black radical tradition. Fusing critical theory with creative writing in a historical context, The Hawthorn Archive represents voices from the utopian margins, where fact, fiction, theory, and image converge.
Reminiscent of the later fictions of Italo Calvino or Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project, The Hawthorn Archive is a groundbreaking work that defies strict disciplinary, methodological, and aesthetic boundaries. And like Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination, which established Gordon as one of the most influential interdisciplinary scholars of the humanities and social sciences in recent years, it provides a kaleidoscopic analysis of power and effect. The Hawthorn Archive’s experimental format and inventive synthesis of critical theory and creative writing make way for a powerful reconception of what counts as social change and political action, offering creative inspiration and critical tools to artists, activists, scholars across various disciplines, and general readers alike.