The Quarantine Tapes

The Quarantine Tapes 129: Ruha Benjamin

Episode Summary

“Informed refusal, to me, is a crucial dimension of power. You don’t have real power if you can’t refuse, if you can’t say no to something.”

Episode Notes

On episode 129 of The Quarantine Tapes, Paul Holdengräber speaks with Ruha Benjamin. Ruha is an Associate Professor of African American Studies. As a teacher, she has found it essential that she and her students extend grace to each other as they navigate the uniquely challenging circumstances of teaching and learning under the pressures of the pandemic. Ruha expresses the difficulties posed by teaching remotely and interrogates our relationship to the technologies used to connect us in these times.

Ruha and Paul discuss what Ruha has been considering lately about pattern-making, worldbuilding, and imagination. Ruha talks about how to begin challenging our assumptions about the neutrality of technology. As we come through this pandemic, they talk about what it will mean to choose to create a world we want instead of re-entrenching the problems and inequities of our existing world.

Ruha Benjamin is Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, Founding Director of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab, and author of the award-winning book Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code (2019) among other publications. For more info please visit