Friday, September 2, 2011

Some Background Readings on Afrofuturism

I was reading a short blog post earlier this week by R.N. Bradley. At one point, she asked "How does technology, a possible racially neutral space because of its accessibility by a large range of ethnic groups, impact our understanding of race politics?" Of course, that question took me right to my long and ongoing thoughts about afrofuturism.

I've been slowly developing a "notebook" with short sketches and musings on this framework for thinking about the intersections between race and technology. In addition to reading the special issue of Social Text on Afrofuturism 20(2) 2002 edited by Alondra Nelson as well as Nelson's essay "Afrofuturism: Past-Future Visions” from Color Lines (Spring 2000): 34-37, I covered some materials early on that also helped me form ideas about AF.

For one, of course, I checked out Mark Dery’s “Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose” in The Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture, 1994: 179-222. 

Sheree Renée Thomas's anthologies Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora (2000) and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (2004) were helpful for providing me with a long-term view of African American speculative writing.

Stepping out a little further, at Alondra Nelson's suggestion, two works that I read early on that gave me some background understanding on issues related to technology were Langdon Winner's The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology (1986) and Michael Adas Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance (1992).

Early on too, I discovered this quirky lil essay "Technology & Ethos" by Amiri Baraka from 1971 that was insightful and entertaining. 

I came across novelists such as Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, and Charles Johnson prior to coming across AF, but the race/tech/sci-fi angles gave me new ways of reading them and other writers I had already encountered.

There's a really extensive bibliography of AF-related readings on the Afrofuturism site.

A developing notebook on afrofuturism:
1999-2000: Discovering The Intuitionist, The Boondocks & Afrofuturism
Black Nerds & African American Literature
Black Twitter and Inequality
Teleportation & Hughes's "Negro Speaks of Rivers": An Afrofuturist Reading
Toward an Afrofuturist Approach to Examining Literary Texts
Alondra Nelson & Afrofuturism
Mark Anthony Neal's Multiple Approaches To Composition

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