Sovereignty is a myth, the law is incoherent, and freedom is a lie—these are the truths of slavery and emancipation. The study of the black Atlantic reckons with these tenets, revealing the bleak state of things not only as they were then but also as they are now. Whether explicitly, the critics studied in this essay write from within frameworks of human states of exception in their discussions of literature, law, and visual culture. Their titles vivify the liminal and at times paradoxical states of being, which generations descending from the black Atlantic inhabit: of lingering, being neither/nor, and acquiring a horrible gift. Influencing much of the discourse around human, legal, and cultural conditions of indistinction is the work of Giorgio Agamben. The process of conceptualizing such indistinct states of being, particularly in light of the power structures producing them, can conjure a craving for discourses of subjectivity that are...

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