Afro-Futurism Aff/Neg



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Afrofuturism Solvency

The affirmative’s criticism, and re-articulation of, contemporary government surveillance practices functions as an Afrofuturist, feminist epistemology – voting aff is the basis for a pragmatic model for cooperation and change


Susana Morris (Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Auburn University) Fall/Winter 2012 “Black Girls Are from the Future: Afrofuturist Feminism in Octavia E. Butler's "Fledgling"” Women's Studies Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 3/4, ENCHANTMENT (FALL/WINTER 2012), pp. 146-166

Black Girls Are from the Future In an early study of Butler s works, Ruth Salvaggio contends, "Though Butler s heroines are dangerous and powerful women, their goal is not power. They are heroines not because they conquer the world, but because they conquer the very notion of tyranny" (1984, 8l).10 This sentiment also describes the dynamics at the heart of Fledgling, Butler s final novel. Fledgling strips vampires of both their omnipotence and their universal izing whiteness. Instead, Butler insists that vampires' potential strength is not in their brawn, or speed, or seductiveness; rather, their strength can be found in symbiosis and hybridity, a transgressive Afrofuturist feminist stance dangerous to conservative notions of identity and community often found in vampire lore. De Witt Douglas Kilgore has suggested, "Black women who contribute to [science fiction/fantasy/horror] have reached the point where the history they recover can potentially become future history. It is now possible to identify a new pattern of expectation, one that emerges from long-suppressed voices" (2008, 127). Thus, the organizing principles of Ina life have the potential to stand as a sort of Afrofuturist feminist epistemology and become a pragmatic model of cooperation that, while a work in progress, does not simply reinforce racism, sexism, and compulsory heterosexuality and other hegemonic social ideals. Fur thermore, Butler s emphasis on symbiosis, enchantment, and the ways in which the novel's humans and Ina struggle to make sense of the evolu tion of their cultures and species reflects the challenges found in our own diverse, unenchanted world as we try to make feminist futures out of tren chant patriarchal realities. Octavia Butler is one member of a thriving cohort of Afrofuturist femi nist writers whose work is actively reconfiguring the contours of specula tive fiction. Her work stands alongside of and is in conversation with the work of writers such as Jewelle Gomez, whose pioneering work in queer speculative fiction has inspired more nuanced renderings of black sexuali ties; Tananarive Due, whose recent work in horror has revolutionized the genre by focusing on complex black heroines; L. A. Banks, whose dark fan tasy/horror novels rival Buffy s girl power but without the racist dynamics; Nalo Hopkinson, whose Afrodiasporic tales of fantasy and folklore skill fully blend tradition with a futurist vision; and Nnendi Okorafo-Mbachu, whose stories of precolonial Africa incite us to reenvision the continent s past and future. Their works stand as, in the words of Kimberly Nichelle Brown (2010), decolonizing texts that destabilize normative notions of what is possible by creating worlds in which black women not only have the power to transform their lives, communities, and even species but do so routinely and, often, unapologetically. Ultimately, while mainstream speculative fiction might depict women, and women of color, especially, as accessories or minor characters, these authors insist that black women and girls are in the present and can and do signify (on) the future.

Afrofuturism is a critical tool for cultural analysis – counters dehumanization


Womack 2012 (L. Ytasha, Afrofuturism: An Aesthetic and Exploration of Identity)

The world of science fiction is known for its absence of cultural diversity. While history texts are still recovering from the conspicuous absence of the contributions of non-European cultures across the world and in America, there’s an equal need to claim the future as well. Hijacking the imagination and perpetuating limiting views on culture and humanity in the imaginative future just won’t do. Enter Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism is a term that emerged in the mid 90s, coined by cultural critic Mark Dery who affixed the term to the growing artistic movement and critiques that followed narratives of people of African descent in a sci-fi, futuristic treaties. Afrofuturists seek to inspire and forge a stronger self-identity and respect for humanity by encouraging enthusiasts to reexamine their environments and reimagine the future in a cross cultural context. For example, one digital Afrofuturist painting of a young African American girl in the future depicted her in metallic space boots and pants; her hair was styled in an Afro and she wore an ankh, an ancient Kemetic symbol on her green-friendly T-shirt. The image bound the future with the past, celebrated culture and universality, and positioned the teen smack dab in the latter part of the 21st century. For many, simply placing a young African American girl in a futuristic context challenges the absence of such images and rearticulates the relevance of such cultures and world views in art depicting the future. The aesthetic includes the music, visual art, literature, film, critical essays and other mediums dedicated to futuristic explorations primarily through the arts. Works range in theme and story lines but they are typically characterized by compelling insights, both cosmetic and analytical into black identity in the Americas, Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa and beyond. From soul singer Erykah Badu’s “Next Lifetime” video which highlights West African traditions in a futuristic society to Nnedi Okorofor’s book “Who Fears Death” chronicling a mystical young girl in post-apocalyptic Africa, the depictions are culturally rich takes on the future through fiction that explore identity, too. Artists like jazz composer Sun Ra, 70s funk pioneer George Clinton, science fiction writer Octavia Butler, or DJ/multimedia artist DJ Spooky are among the more popular purveyors of the genre (although Sun Ra, Clinton and Butler did work long before the term came into vogue). There are a bevy of new wave artists, musicians and filmmakers creating new works as well as a cadre of established professors now chronicling and teaching it. In fact, Afrofuturism is now taught in several universities as an artistic aesthetic, a tool for critical cultural analysis, a platform for rethinking the impact of modernization on cultural creations as well as an exploration of identity. Pioneers created works largely to challenge color-based social structures, caste systems and the realities of second-class citizenship, which plagued the experience of black people, particularly in America and across the world for much of the modern era. In many cases, particularly in music, they re-imagined technologies to create new artistic works or reinvented processes that created new sounds. The creations of avant-garde jazz, funk, dub, house, hip-hop and other genres are as innovative for their musicality as for their experimentations with electronic sounds and machinery. The use of a turntable needle in hip-hop to create music or the multi-layering of prerecorded noises in dub are as Afrofuturist as Motown Record’s Berry Gordy looking to Detroit’s car assembly lines as a basis for creating a new system in artist development. Each explores the impact of modernization and environment on the creation of artistic movements, identity and perspectives by people of color.An extensive body of critical analysis using Afrofuturism as the prism currently exists. DJ Spooky, for one, is most known for reediting the film Birth of a Nation, a film which was technically advanced at the time but also reinforced horrific stereotypes of blacks during the Reconstruction period in the US and established ethnic stereotypes in films for years to come. DJ Spooky linked the images on the screen to his turntable and mixed and scratched along with the revisioning of the film. Many Afrofuturist works are characterized by a synchronicity between the past and the future. While many science fiction works heavily disavow the past, Afrofuturism has a great deal of reverence for ancestors and ancient societies as well as an active celebration of movements in history that countered the active dehumanization of people of color through power systems. This reverence is rearticulated in a futuristic context. References to Egyptian deities and other African Traditional Religions (Yoruba, etc), African Derived Religions (Santeria, Candomble, Hoodoo) and Native American folklore and spirituality are common as are references to Asian fighting arts and the civil rights movement in the US. Spirituality and mysticism are frequent threads. Humanity, freedom and self-determination are common themes.While all works dubbed Afrofuturist aren’t created by people of African descent or don’t deal with black identity on the surface (the pop culture favorite “The Matrix” or the original “Night of the Living Dead” film for example) they share themes, symbolism or imagery that evokes cultural markers.In essence, many Afrofuturists aim to challenge society’s limits to the imagination and this limitation includes a very narrow reflection on race, culture and ethnicity in fictional and artistic works on the future. Afrofuturism celebrates new takes on modernization and the histories that have facilitated social change. Although some might argue that the term itself is as freeing as it is constricting, the growing body of work categorized in this genre is fascinating and enriching.

Imagination allow for us to create a space and language to address issues in the past, present, and future


Stone, 14 (Chardine Taylor-Stone is the founder of black speculative fiction book club Mothership Connections (@MCBookClub on Twitter). She is a member of Writers of Colour, plays drums in black feminist punk band Big Joanie and is currently in her final year studying for a BA (Hons) Arts and Humanities at Birkbeck. “Afrofuturism: Where Space, Pyramids and Politics Collide” http://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2014/jan/07/afrofuturism-where-space-pyramids-and-politics-collide ,Tuesday 7 January 2014, TAM)

Afrofuturism creates a space for those from the Black Diaspora to explore issues in the present and how they will manifest in the future. As Michah Yongo points out, just as the language used in Orwell’s 1984 has been used to frame the debate around increasing government surveillance, black science fiction can provide a new language to address the increasingly complicated frameworks of discrimination. If we are able to name these frameworks in the same way we recognise Big Brother when we see him, it is the first step in being able to dismantle them. In this sense, Afrofuturism provides a lot more to the black experience than simple escapism, silver Dashikis and pyramid-shaped spaceships, although I will always have time for that too.

Afro-futurism also creates a viable process of dis-alienation


Eshun ‘13(Eshun, Kowdo. writer, theorist and filmmaker. studied English Literature at University College, Oxford University, and Romanticism and Modernism MA Hons at Southampton University. "Project MUSE - Further Considerations of Afrofuturism." Project MUSE - Further Considerations of Afrofuturism. Michigan State University Press, summer 2013. Web. .)

Afrofuturism does not stop at correcting the history of the future. Nor is it a simple matter of inserting more black actors into science-fiction narratives. These methods are only baby steps towards the more totalizing realization that, in Greg Tate’s formulation, Afrodiasporic subjects live the estrangement that science-fiction writers envision. Black existence and science fiction are one and the same. In The Last Angel of History, Tate argued that “The form itself, the conventions of the narrative in terms of the way it deals with subjectivity, focuses on someone who is at odds with the apparatus of power in society and whose profound experience is one of cultural dislocation, alienation and estrangement. Most science fiction tales dramatically deal with how the individual is going to contend with these alienating, dislocating societies and circumstances and that pretty much sums up the mass experiences of black people in the postslavery twentieth century.” At the century’s start, Dubois termed the condition of structural and psychological alienation as double consciousness. The condition of alienation, understood in its most general sense, is a psychosocial inevitability that all Afrodiasporic art uses to its own advantage by creating contexts that a process of disalienation. Afrofuturism’s specificity lies in assembling conceptual approaches and countermemorial mediated practices in order to access triple consciousness, quadruple consciousness, previously inaccessible alienations.

Slavery is analogous to alien abduction – thus blacks have been living in an alien nation for centuries – thus the black body does not represent the ideal of humanity – Afrofuturist discourse demonstrates a move by black bodies from the subhuman to the posthuman


Nelson, Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, 2002 (Alondra, holds an appointment in the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWaG). Her areas of specialization include race and ethnicity in the U.S.; gender and kinship; socio-historical studies of medicine, science and technology; and social and cultural theory. Nelson studies the production of knowledge about human difference in biomedicine and technoscience and the circulation of these ideas in the public sphere: Her research focuses on how science and its applications shape the social world, including aspects of personal identification, racial formation and collective action. In turn, she also explores the ways in which social groups challenge, engage and, in some instances, adopt and mobilize conceptualizations of race, ethnicity and gender derived from scientific and technical domains. Afrofuturism, Duke University Press, 2002) page 27

Taking the negative ontological placement of black subjects in Western modernity as his point of departure, Kodwo Eshun constructs an argument that posits a specifically black constellation of the posthuman in which New World black subjects have privileged access to the posthuman because they were denied the status of human for so long.20 Eshun belongs to a growing number of critics exploring the intersections of black cultural production, technology, and science fiction collected under the rubric Afrofuturism, including Greg Tate, Sheree Thomas, Mark Dery, Carol Cooper, Nalo Hopkinson, Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky), and the many contributors to the AfroFuturism Web site and listserv.21 Eshun’s 1998 volume More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction represents the most extensive manifesto of this movement, tracing different forms of alienness and posthumanity through various genres of post– World War II black popular music, including jazz, funk, hip hop, techno, and jungle, as well as providing a dazzling account of the technicity of black music. Eshun claims that the sign of the human harbors a negative significance, if any, in Afrofuturist musical configurations. In these genres, he argues, shifting forms of nonhuman otherworldliness replace the human as the central characteristic of black subjectivity: The idea of slavery as an alien abduction means that we’ve all been living in an alien-nation since the eighteenth century. The mutation of African male and female slaves in the eighteenth century into what became negro, and into an entire series of humans that were designed in America. That whole process, the key behind it all is that in America none of these humans were designated human. It’s in the music that you get this sense that most African- Americans owe nothing to the status of the human. There is this sense of the human as being a really pointless and treacherous category. (192 – 93; emphasis mine) As a result of the dehumanizing forces of slavery, in Eshun’s frame of reference, certain kinds of black popular music stage black subjectivity, bypassing the modality of the human in the process of moving from the subhuman to the posthuman. According to Eshun, black posthumanism stands in stark contrast to the strong humanist strand found in a host of black cultural styles, ranging from the majority of African American literature to the history of soul and the blues. Eshun describes these two modes of thinking as Afro-diasporic futurism and the humanist futureshock absorbers of mainstream black culture. Eshun’s important work unearths some of the radical strands of black music that refuse to uncritically embrace the Western conception of “the human,” are largely instrumental, and therefore do not rely on the black voice as a figure of value.


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