Virtual Event: Habiba Ibrahim


Black Age:
Oceanic Lifespans and the Time of Black Life

in conversation with NICOLE KING


January 28, 2022
12:00 PM ET


Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.


Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes HABIBA IBRAHIM—Associate Professor of English at the University of Washington and author of Troubling the Family—for a discussion of her latest book, Black Age: Oceanic Lifespans and the Time of Black Life. She will be joined in conversation by scholar NICOLE KING, author of the forthcoming Black Childhood in Modern African American Fiction.

Contribute to Support Harvard Book Store

While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of Black Age on, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.

Click here to join!

About Black Age

Although more than fifty years apart, the murders of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin share a commonality: Black children are not seen as children. Time and time again, excuses for police brutality and aggression—particularly against Black children—concern the victim “appearing” as a threat. But why and how is the perceived “appearance” of Black persons so completely separated from common perceptions of age and time?

Black Age: Oceanic Lifespans and the Time of Black Life posits age, life stages, and lifespans as a central lens through which to view Blackness, particularly with regard to the history of transatlantic slavery. Focusing on Black literary culture of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Habiba Ibrahim examines how the history of transatlantic slavery and the constitution of modern Blackness has been reimagined through the embodiment of age. She argues that Black age―through nearly four centuries of subjugation—has become contingent, malleable, and suited for the needs of enslavement. As a result, rather than the number of years lived or a developmental life stage, Black age came to signify exchange value, historical under-development, timelessness, and other fantasies borne out of Black exclusion from the human.

Ibrahim asks: What constitutes a normative timeline of maturation for Black girls when “all the women”―all the canonically feminized adults―“are white”? How does a “slave” become a “man” when adulthood is foreclosed to Black subjects of any gender? Black Age tracks the struggle between the abuses of Black exclusion from Western humanism and the reclamation of non-normative Black life, arguing that, if some of us are brave, it is because we dare to live lives considered incomprehensible within a schema of “human time.”

Praise for Black Age

"This truly revelatory book uncovers the flesh of black age. Through a focus on black untimeliness, Habiba Ibrahim reveals a counter-history of modernity. Ibrahim adds vital new dimensions to the study of blackness as an alternative relation to time. This tremendous book reveals that black life is a state of being alienated from the time of one’s own body and a radical refusal of patriarchal adulthood." —Margo Natalie Crawford, author of Black Post-Blackness: The Black Arts Movement and Twenty-First-Century Aesthetics

"Habiba Ibrahim’s Black Age opens up powerful new vocabularies and paradigms for thinking about Black cultural expression—and indeed Black life. Through beautifully argued analyses of literary texts, Ibrahim produces startling and profound insights into age, temporality, modernity, race, subjectivity, and the very category of the human." —Gayle Wald, author of It’s Been Beautiful: Soul! and Black Power Television

Habiba Ibrahim
Habiba Ibrahim

Habiba Ibrahim

Habiba Ibrahim is Associate Professor of English at the University of Washington. She is the author of Troubling the Family: The Promise of Personhood and the Rise of Multiracialism (2012).

Nicole King
Nicole King

Nicole King

Dr. Nicole King is a lecturer in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is the author of C.L.R. James and Creolization: Circles of Influence (2001) and is currently completing Black Childhood in Modern African American Fiction (Edinburgh University Press). She has published essays on modern African American identities and literature, Caribbean literature, Black British literature and teaching literature in higher education.

Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Event Series: Friday Forum

Harvard Book Store's Friday Forum series takes place on Friday afternoons during the academic year as a way to highlight scholarly books in a wide range of fields, with a particular focus on local scholars.

General Info
(617) 661-1515

Media Inquiries

Accessibility Inquiries

Classic Totes

Tote bags and pouches
in a variety of styles,
sizes, and designs
, plus mugs, bookmarks, and more!

Learn More »

Shipping & Pickup

We ship anywhere in the U.S. and orders of $75+ ship free via media mail!

Learn More »

Noteworthy Signed Books: Join the Club!

Join our Signed First Edition Club (or give a gift subscription) for a signed book of great literary merit, delivered to you monthly.

Learn More »