Irvin J. Hunt, "Dreaming the Present: Time, Aesthetics, and the Black Cooperative Movement" (UNC Press, 2022)


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In their darkest hours over the course of the twentieth century, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ella Baker, George Schuyler, and Fannie Lou Hamer gathered hundreds across the United States and beyond to build vast, now forgotten, networks of mutual aid: farms, shops, schools, banks, daycares, homes, health clinics, and burial grounds. They called these spaces cooperatives, local challenges to global capital, where people pooled all they had to meet all their needs.

In Dreaming the Present: Time, Aesthetics, and the Black Cooperative Movement (UNC Press, 2022), Irvin J. Hunt argues that their overarching need was to free their movement from the logic of progress. Steeped in the wonders of this movement's material afterlife, Hunt extrapolates three non-progressive forms of movement time: a continual beginning, a deliberate falling apart, and a kind of all-at-once simultaneity. These temporalities describe how these leaders, along with their circles, maneuvered the law, reappropriated property, expressed the pleasures of resistance, challenged the value of longevity, built autonomous communities, and fundamentally reimagined what a movement can be. Hunt offers both an original account of Black mutual aid and, in a world of diminishing of futures, a moving meditation on the possibilities of the present.

Brittney Edmonds is an Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies at UW-Madison. I specialize in 20th and 21st century African American Literature and Culture with a special interest in Black Humor Studies. Read more about my work at

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