Amid the overlapping crises of a pandemic, ecological disaster, and global capitalism, two leading Black and Indigenous feminist theorists ask one another: what do liberated lands, minds, and bodies look like? These letters are part debate, part dialogue, and part lively and detailed familial correspondence between two razor-sharp thinkers, sending notes to each other during a stormy present. Featuring a foreword by Ruth Wilson Gilmore and an afterword by Robin D.G. Kelley.
“As we collectively and unevenly live through sedimented colonialities, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Robyn Maynard draw out a political vision that emerges from epistolary connections—letters, animated by stories, that seek out, engage, imagine, and narrate different kinds and types of liberation. Accentuated by entangled black-indigenous histories and geographies, Rehearsals for Living actualizes friendship as correspondence, modeling a mode of togetherness that we can practice, learn from, and revise.”
—Katherine McKittrick, author of Demonic Grounds and Dear Science and Other Stories.
“Rehearsals for Living is a profound and sublime work of memory, witnessing, refusal, dreaming. In the trenchant tradition of Black and Indigenous feminisms, this brilliant book moves us away from the language of crisis or victimhood to the precise and intimate encounters of kinship and liberation. The letters between Maynard and Simpson magnificently shapeshift and engage on multiple levels, and in doing so, rigorously demand an accounting for horrific violences while illuminating lives and worlds anew. A masterclass in literary form, ethical orientations, and collective futures.”
—Harsha Walia, author of Border and Rule, Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism
“Across the pandemic-imposed distance, Leanne and Robyn begin a new iteration of the practices they’ve enacted in their labors and loves for years—this origin rises in letters, in which they take account of (and consequently bear the physical, emotional, and intellectual burdens of that accounting) the intimate and public violences committed by our governments upon our peoples, lands, waters and non-human relatives. In these letters, Leanne and Robyn constellate our brightest wounds and scars, but refuse to waste their energies of love and imagination on fixing or salvaging the Nation/State. Instead, they reorganize the trajectories and shapes of those constellations—retelling stories again and anew, of who we have been and might yet be again.”
—Natalie Diaz, author of Postcolonial Love Poem
“Rehearsals for Living is an intellectually fierce dialogue about our colonial present by two of the most renowned scholar-activists working today. In a time of incredible uncertainty, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Robyn Maynard show that the shared and divergent histories of Black and Indigenous communities are foundational to the building of a better world for all.”
—Glen Coulthard, author of Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition
“Not all apocalypses are unwelcome. The profound anticipation for a world otherwise bubbled to the surface the summer of 2020. Collective rage and love shattered the sense of inviolability surrounding white supremacy putting forward an alternative vision, one already existing and always in the making. Rehearsals for Living is an epistolary that captures that urgent project of what it means to be human and imagine freedom in times of terrible danger. Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson tap into Black and Indigenous ways of knowing and world-making that require a fundamental disordering of the forces of destruction and the re-ordering of life and the beautiful struggle to get free.”
—Nick Estes, author of Our History is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance
"We have been, and will continue to be, flooded with big books and little books and reports and documentary films all showing us how capitalism, racism, prisons, patriarchy, walls, and war are killing the planet. But this book is different. How Maynard and Simpson came to understand the world we must abolish and the world we need to build is through communing—with each other, comrades, friends and family, and the movements to which they make themselves accountable. They dance together, sing together, meditate, worship, and study together through letters, by sharing, by making themselves vulnerable to one another and to all of us reading these pages. Rehearsals for Living is a work of profound humility that honors the ancestors, the land, the children, and the struggles that enabled every generation to survive. They braid the histories and collective memories of Black and Indigenous struggles to establish a basis for solidarity, to find answers, and to reveal and share valuable lessons for our movements.”
—Robin D. G. Kelley, from the Afterword