Friday, June 09, 2006

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Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, music writers and cultural critics like Mark Dery, Greg Tate, Mark Sinker and Tricia Rose brought science fiction themes in the works of important and innovative cultural producers to our attention. They claimed that these works simultaneously referenced a past of abduction, displacement and alien-nation, and inspired technical and creative innovations in the work of such artists as Lee "Scratch" Perry, George Clinton and Sun Ra. Science fiction was a recurring motif in the music of these artists, they argued, because it was an apt metaphor for black life and history.

Now a new generation of AfroFuturists are exploring these themes in a variety of genres: DJs Spooky and Singe in music and digital culture, Fatimah Tuggar and Keith Piper in the visual arts, Kodwo Eshun in music criticism, McLean Greaves in cyberspace, and Nalo Hopkinson in speculative fiction.

The AfroFuturism listserv will explore futurist themes in black cultural production and the ways in which technological innovation is changing the face of black art and culture. The discussion is open to all relevant topics but some questions to consider are: Are recurring futurist themes in these different genres just coincidences? Are they aesthetic a/effects of our millennial moment? Or have futurism and science fiction become the most effective way to talk about black experiences? How do these themes refer to the history of the African diaspora, yet imagine possible futures, futures that enable a broad range of cultural expression and an ever-widening definition of "blackness?" Do they change that definition according to technological imperatives, and if so, how so? Do these examples provide evidence of distinctly "black" uses of technology?

Past moderators have included Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid; Sheree Renee Thomas, editor, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora; Ron Eglash, Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and author, African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design; Nalo Hopkinson, author, Brown Girl in the Ring and Midnight Robber and editor, Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction; Alondra Nelson, co-editor, Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life; Alexander G. Weheliye, Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies, Northwestern University; and David Goldberg.

For information about the listserv contact listowner Alondra Nelson: For comments, additions, and corrections to this site contact webmaster Art McGee: Most of the text on this site, designed and originally hosted by Kali Tal, is drawn from the Afrofuturism listserv archives and is written by Afrofuturism subscribers.


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