M Archive

After the End of the World

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: 8 illustrations Published: March 2018

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Literature and Literary Studies > Poetry, Theory and Philosophy > Feminist Theory

Following the innovative collection Spill, Alexis Pauline Gumbs's M Archive—the second book in a planned experimental triptych—is a series of poetic artifacts that speculatively documents the persistence of Black life following a worldwide cataclysm. Engaging with the work of the foundational Black feminist theorist M. Jacqui Alexander, and following the trajectory of Gumbs's acclaimed visionary fiction short story “Evidence,” M Archive is told from the perspective of a future researcher who uncovers evidence of the conditions of late capitalism, antiblackness, and environmental crisis while examining possibilities of being that exceed the human. By exploring how Black feminist theory is already after the end of the world, Gumbs reinscribes the possibilities and potentials of scholarship while demonstrating the impossibility of demarcating the lines between art, science, spirit, scholarship, and politics.


"M Archive adds to and extends the critical work being done around breath, breathing, and blackness. And in so doing, it gives us a reason to breathe – independently and collectively – again."
  — Sasha Panaram, New Black Man (In Exile)

"Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a literary treasure. M Archive, the second book in an innovative trilogy that began with Spill, is evidence of her brilliance." — Bitch

(Starred Review) "Groundbreaking.... This is an impressive archive 'written in collaboration with the survivors' and the mythology that Gumbs develops from the artifacts of future black life and memory works to reveal an existence 'on the verge of regenerating the cells that would let us dream deep enough to remember.'” — Publishers Weekly

"The end of the world is no joke! This text is clearly ambitious. More compendium than chronicle, the writing is poetic, dense, and often solemn with glimmers of dark wit." — Gabrielle Civil, Full Stop

"Offers a set of necessary and stimulating interventions . . . A generous work that challenges dominant views that assume that ancestral speculative work has no place in feminist theory." — Chandra Frank, Feminist Formations

"Gumbs makes visible the consequences of the colonial Anthropocene that targets those that struggle against white supremacy, hetero-patriarchy, and the history of Black feminist refusal." — Macarena Gómez-Barris, Antipode

"At turns lush and awesome, in ways that make the eyes gleam and the mind crackle with electricity, in ways that devastate and leave the spirit raw with overlain feelings of complicity and responsibility, and loving, always loving, always loving in, between, and across every single word—the beautiful and daring writing of M Archive imperatively continues the constellar work of radical Black feminism’s ongoing project of 'imagining the unimaginable.'" — John Murillo III, Make

"The second in a trilogy, I’d encourage you to read all of them. Alexis is an incredible public intellectual whose writings and organizing around abolition have educated me for decades. In M Archive, she expands on the world of her short story 'Evidence' from Octavia’sBrood, and brings her liberated poetical style to imaginings of a post-cataclysmic world, rooted in the notion of Black archival life as a fundamental key to liberation." — Walidah Imarisha, One Zero

"[G]round-breaking. . . . Gumbs’s trilogy embraces the lyric beauty in the acts of naming, remembering, and finding one’s way back to the source. . . . Reading Gumbs’s books feels like reading an archive that will someday, who knows maybe even someday soon, usher in an era of radical transformation." — Kathryn Nuernberger, West Branch

“Gumbs uses speculative documentary as a space in which to trace the possible impact of humanity’s exploitative labor and environmental policies, which rely on the subjugation of black and brown bodies—especially women of color.... I believe this text will be of particular interest to scholars and readers who appreciate literary forms that meld poetry and theory....”

— Sarah Heidebrink-Bruno, SFRA Review

"Alexis Pauline Gumbs presents a brilliant, highly original theorization of the impact of a dystopic reality on black consciousness and black bodies, asking: how will they act as archives of the end of the world as we know it? By articulating black bodies as critical sites of archival knowledge, Gumbs reads them beyond historical notions of catastrophic suffering as racialized subjects." — Alexis De Veaux, author of Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde

“Reading this gift of writing I keep gasping! Is Alexis writing from the bottom of the ocean, or the far-off future, or from inside the mind of God-is-change? How does she see everything so clearly? How does she make such incredible connections for us? This writing is generous and genius. It feels like fiction that taps into the deepest vein of sentience, that is also instantly sacred text. Thank you, Alexis, and bless you.” — adrienne maree brown, author of Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds


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Price: $24.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a poet, independent scholar, and activist. She is the author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, also published by Duke University Press; coeditor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines; and the founder and director of Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, an educational program based in Durham, North Carolina.

Table of Contents Back to Top
A Note  ix
From the Lab Notebooks of the Last Experiments  3
Archive of Dirt: What We Did  31
Archive of Sky: What We Became  71
Archive of Fire: Rate of Change  89
Archive of Ocean: Origin  105
Baskets (Possible Futures Yet to Be Woven)  133
Memory Drive  185
Acknowledgments  213
Notes  217
Periodic Kitchen Table of Elements  227
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