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Afro-Futurism: Afrofuturism

An overview of items in the library's collection that will allow those interested to gain footing in the discipline and increase knowledge of the African Diaspora's place in graphic novels and comic books.

A F R O F U T U R I S M

To see more of Manzel Bowman's Illustrating Us Black to the Future, click HERE

Af·ro·fu·tur·ism
/ˌafrōˈfyo͞oCHərizəm/
noun
  1. a movement in literature, music, art, etc., featuring futuristic or science fiction themes which incorporate elements of black history and culture (dictionary.com).
  2. a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of history that explores the developing intersection of African/African Diaspora culture with technology (Wikipedia).

According to Louis Chude-Sokei, Chair of African American Studies at Boston University, "Afrofuturism isn’t about forgetting the past, but reshaping the past towards the future.” Afrofuturism blends science fiction, fantasy, and tribal tradition to imagine a future without non-African influence. (Alyssa Mercant, What is Afrofuturism? An Illustrated Guide from SUN RA to T'Challa)  

"Since the 1990s we have seen an explosion of speculative art rooted in the black diasporic experience.  Spanning media and crossing borders, the speculative work offered by these voices has coalesced into a movement broadly defined as Afrofuturism.... Afrofuturism is an evolving theoretical framework that seeks to reframe how we think about the past and future of race and identity, colonial legacies and our approach to science and technology." (Dr. Julian Chambliss,  course description of IAH221C Fall 2019 syllabus)

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Books

Comics

Author Spotlight: Octavia E. Butler

Novels

A Curated Reading & Viewing List

A Curated Reading/Viewing List from Dr. Julian Chambliss' Introduction to Afrofuturism course syllabus: Afrofantastic: Race, Power, and Gender in the Black Imaginary (IAH 221C - Michigan State University, 2019) 


Lisa Yaszek, “Afrofuturism, Science Fiction, and the History of the Future,” Socialism and Democracy 20, no. 3 (November 2006): 41–60. 

Samuel R. Delany, “Racism and Science Fiction

Mark Dery, Black to the Future

Reynaldo Anderson and Charles E. Jones, “The Rise of Astro-Blackness” from Afrofuturism 2.0 (Book order requested)

W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Comet

Sun Ra Interview (see Interviews)

Sun Ra's Full Lecture & Reading List From His 1971 UC Berkeley Course, “The Black Man in the Universe,” or “The Black man in the Cosmos

Erik Steinskog, "Blackness, Technology and Changing Same” (Request via ILL)

Lee “Scratch” Perry - Studio Black Ark (see Music); Lee "Scratch" Perry Interview (see Interview)

George Clinton and Parliament – Mothership Connection (see Music); Clinton and P-Funk Interview (see Interview) 

Grace Gipson, “Afrofuturism’s Musical Princess Janelle Monae” (in Afrofuturism 2.0)

Janelle Monáe - Q.U.E.E.N. feat. Erykah Badu (see Music); Dirty Computer (see film)

George E. Lewis, “Foreword: After Afrofuturism,” Journal of the Society for American Music 2, no. 2 (May 2008): 139–53.

Pumzi by Wanuri  Kahiu (see Film)

Brother from Another Planet (1984) Movie (full run time 1 hr. 48 min.)

Reynaldo Anderson, “A Case Study in Visual Rhetoric, Sequential Art, and Postapocalyptic Black Identity,” From The Blacker the Link: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art (see Books, Chapter 8; ILL from JSTOR)

Dwayne McDuffie and Gregory Wright, Deathlok: The Living Nightmare of Michael Collins (Marvel, 1990) (Book order requested)

Sheena C. Howard, “Black Panther and the Politics of Black Heroism,” Black Perspectives (blog), March 10, 2018. (To locate similar articles use #comicsandrace to search for items on Black Perspectives (see Websites))

BET’s Black Panther, Episode 1 (see Television)

Documentary -- The Last Angel of History (1997)

Andre Carrington, “Space Race Woman” from Speculative Blackness (Book order requested)

Additional Readings

Reynaldo Anderson, AFROFUTURISM 2.0 & THE BLACK SPECULATIVE ART MOVEMENT Notes on a Manifesto

Reynaldo Anderson, "On Black Panther, Afrofuturism, and Astroblackness: A Conversation with Reynaldo Anderson", The Black Scholar

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

 

Zora Neale Hurston Festival | Afrofuturism Conference | January 30-31, 2020 | Orlando, Florida


 

College Language Association Convention | Afrofuturism: Diasporic Visions | April 1 -4, 2020 | Memphis, Tennessee

 

 

Interviews

Afrofuturist Artists

Click HERE to view CNN's Afrofuturist Artists

 

The Works of Nnedi Okorafor - An Africanfuturist Writer

In her Hugo- and Nebula-winning novella, Nnedi Okorafor introduced us to Binti, a young Himba girl with the chance of a lifetime: to attend the prestigious Oomza University. Despite her family's concerns, Binti's talent for mathematics and her aptitude with astrolabes make her a prime candidate to undertake this interstellar journey.

Nnamdi's father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a magical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use those powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers?

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do.

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.

As the Black Panther and an Avenger, T'Challa has had to save the world time and again -- but those duties pale in comparison to his responsibilities as king of Wakanda. As the nation rebuilds in the wake of revolution, T'Challa finds his people besieged by a massive monster tearing through the country, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake! From acclaimed novelist NNEDI OKORAFOR (BINTI, WHO FEARS DEATH) and illustrator ANDRE ARAUJO (SPIDEY, THE WICKED + DIVINE) comes an adventure set in the world of Ta-Nehisi Coates' landmark BLACK PANTHER run and told in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

The world fell in love with her in the movie. Now, the Black Panther's techno-genius sister launches her own adventures — written by best-selling Afrofuturist author Nnedi Okorafor and drawn by Eisner-nominated artist Leonardo Romero! The Black Panther has disappeared, lost on a mission in space. And in his absence, everyone's looking at the next in line for the throne. But Shuri is happiest in a lab, surrounded by gadgets of her own creation. She'd rather be testing gauntlets than throwing them. But a nation without a leader is a vulnerable one — and Shuri may have to choose between Wakanda's welfare and her own.

THE SEARCH FOR T’CHALLA BEGINS! The king of Wakanda has been missing for weeks. Now, his little sister is tired of waiting. It’s time for Shuri — with a little help from Storm of the X-Men — to go save her brother for what must be the millionth time. But Wakanda expects the princess to take the throne — and the Panther mantle — once again. Can Wakanda survive without a Black Panther? Can Shuri?

I AM…SHURI? A little Wakandan magic, a little astral projection and a very confused tree. Shuri cast her mind into the depths of space in a desperate bid to find her missing brother—and instead she landed in the mind of Groot! Who’s about to become a crunchy snack for a huge, energy-sucking alien! Rocket Raccoon’s best guns won’t get them out of this one. Is Wakanda about to lose its only remaining heir to the throne?!

VIBRANIUM 24/7! All of Wakandan history and culture is under threat as the Space Lubber that followed Shuri all the way from the depths of space back to Wakanda makes its move! To stop it, Shuri and her allies will have to go deep into the Vibranium mines — which doesn’t sit well with the claustrophobic Storm!

SHURI TAKES UP THE BLACK PANTHER MANTLE ONCE AGAIN! Nnedi Okorafor returns alongside rising star artist Rachael Stott with a brand-new arc! But this is a Black Panther you’ve never seen before — one who will change Wakanda forever. Something has stolen pieces of the Djalia, the plane of Wakandan memory, and it’s up to the Princess of Wakanda to save it. But for every piece of the Djalia lost, a piece of Shuri disappears as well. Will a new suit be enough to save herself and her nation?

WHEN THE POWER GOES OUT IN WAKANDA...Shuri’s returned from her space adventure with Rocket and Groot — but she’s brought something back with her. And now, centuries-old music and stories are disappearing across Africa. Something is stealing the continent’s cultural history — and its electrical power. Then, as if the heir to the throne didn’t have enough on her plate, a mysterious envoy arrives, and they’re looking for the Black Panther. Life as the princess of Wakanda just got a lot more complicated!

THE TWO BADDEST GAUNTLET-WIELDERS IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE UNITE! An alien creature has invaded Wakanda! And with her powers strangely malfunctioning and her brother still missing, Shuri is in over her head. Time to call for backup. Enter: Iron Man! But can these two tech geniuses figure out how to de-power an energy-sucking alien before it destroys the entire continent? Don’t miss the end of the first arc — and a dramatic change for the princess of Wakanda!

In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her Onyesonwu, which means "Who fears death?" in an ancient language.

PART ONE OF A THREE-PART STORY THAT SEES THE DORA MILAJE TEAM UP WITH THE MARVEL U! The blockbuster Black Panther film has everyone talking about Wakanda’s best warriors, the fierce Dora Milaje! Now witness the Dora outside of Wakanda – and in Spider-Man’s world! When the Dora catch wind of a Wakandan threat causing trouble in New York, they’ll leap into action – with or without their king. Don’t miss Okoye, Ayo and Aneka on a globe-trotting mission to protect the realm at any cost. WAKANDA FOREVER starts here!

Former Dora Milaje member and eternal troublemaker Nakia, A.K.A. Malice, has set a trap to lure the Black Panther into her obsessive clutches! Step One: Take out the Panther’s one true love, Storm of the X-Men! But Nakia didn’t count on the interference of her former warriors-in-arms, the fierce Dora Milaje — and they’re hot on her trail. Can Okoye, Ayo and Aneka capture Malice before she wreaks havoc on their king’s life — again? The talented Ray-Anthony Height joins best-selling author Nnedi Okorafor for the second installment of WAKANDA FOREVER!

A fiery spirit dances from the pages of the Great Book. She brings the aroma of scorched sand and ozone. She has a story to tell....

The Book of Phoenix is a unique work of magical futurism. A prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death, it features the rise of another of Nnedi Okorafor’s powerful, memorable, superhuman women.

In an alternate world where aliens have integrated with society, pregnant Nigerian- American doctor Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka has just smuggled an illegal alien plant named Letme Live through LaGuardia International and Interstellar Airport... and that's not the only thing she's hiding.

Kabu kabu—unregistered illegal Nigerian taxis—generally get you where you need to go. Nnedi Okorafor’s Kabu Kabu, however, takes the reader to exciting, fantastic, magical, occasionally dangerous, and always imaginative locations you didn’t know you needed. This debut short story collection by an award-winning author includes notable previously published material, a new novella co-written with New York Times-bestselling author Alan Dean Foster, six additional original stories, and a brief foreword by Whoopi Goldberg.

In the Ooni Kingdom, children born dada—with vines growing in their hair—are rumored to have special powers. Zahrah Tsami doesn’t know anything about that. She feels normal. Others think she’s different—they fear her. Only Dari, her best friend, isn’t afraid of her. But then something begins to happen—something that definitely marks Zahrah as different—and the only person she can tell is Dari. He pushes her to investigate, edging them both closer and closer to danger. Until Dari’s life is on the line. Only Zahrah can save him, but to do so she’ll have to face her worst fears alone, including the very thing that makes her different. This ebook includes bonus content and images, as well.

Nnedi Okorafor was never supposed to be paralyzed. A college track star and budding entomologist, Nnedi’s lifelong battle with scoliosis was just a bump in her plan—something a simple operation would easily correct. But when Nnedi wakes from the surgery to find she can’t move her legs, her entire sense of self begins to waver. Confined to a hospital bed for months, unusual things begin to happen. Psychedelic bugs crawl her hospital walls; strange dreams visit her nightly. Nnedi begins to put these experiences into writing, conjuring up strange, fantastical stories. What Nnedi discovers during her confinement would prove to be the key to her life as a successful science fiction author: In science fiction, when something breaks, something greater often emerges from the cracks.

An alien artifact turns a young girl into Death's adopted daughter in Remote Control, a thrilling sci-fi tale of community and female empowerment from Nebula and Hugo Award-winner Nnedi Okorafor.

There is witchcraft in science and a science to witchcraft. Both will conspire against you eventually.

Nnedi Okorafor's "Hello, Moto" has been adapted by C.J. Obasi into the short film Hello, Rain.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

"It’s a tragedy for a mere girl to experience such deep sorrow. But things were about to change for this girl. Oh yes. When things are meant to be, they will. The world always turns and the candle always burns. And Chidera was about to learn that one can get the very things one yearns." 

A 2012 Hugo Award nominee for Best Semiprozine!

The May 2012 issue of Apex Magazine contains the following great content:

Short Fiction:

"The Chaos Magician's Mega Chemistry Set" by Nnedi Okorafor

The March 2011 issue of Hugo Award-winner, Clarkesworld Magazine.

This issue features fiction by Nnedi Okorafor ("The Book of Phoenix") and Gwendolyn Clare ("Perfect Lies"), an interview with Cory Doctorow, and an article on crowdsourcing science fiction movies by Mark Cole.

The Black Panther’s techno-genius sister stars in her own incredible adventures! T’Challa has disappeared, and Wakanda expects Shuri to lead their great nation in his absence! But she’s happiest in a lab surrounded by her inventions. She’d rather be testing gauntlets than throwing them down! So it’s time for Shuri to rescue her brother yet again — with a little help from Storm, Rocket Raccoon and Groot! But what happens when her outer-space adventure puts Africa at risk from an energy-sapping alien threat? Then, Shuri heads to America to investigate a lead, with Ms. Marvel and Miles “Spider-Man” Morales along for the ride! But with her people in peril, will Shuri embrace her reluctant destiny and become the Black Panther once more? Prepare for a hero like you’ve never seen before!

Suggestions

The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society—and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award–nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’s rap group clipping

In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air--in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

Ted Talks

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Websites


Black Perspectives serves as the blog for the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS). "Today Black Perspectives is the leading online platform for public scholarship on global Black thought, history, and culture." 

Suggested Assignment(s)

ICONOGRAPHY: An assignment created by Dr. Julian Chambliss

For this project, you will create a visual set that explores the themes and highlight transformative ideas linked to Afrofuturism. These posters can be created using desktop tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft PowerPoint, or online tools such as Canva.com or Ease.lly.com. 

The ICO posters are a different methodology to explore the contributions and perspectives linked to Afrofuturism you have read about throughout the course. All posters will be submitted electronically. These posters will be included in an online gallery governed by a creative commons license. You should sign each poster to ensure attribution.

Each student will complete a set of three (3) posters. The poster themes will be:

  • Politics & Afrofuturism
  • Gender & Afrofuturism
  • Social Class & Afrofuturism

Your ICO set will be accompanied by a creator statement. In the creator statement, you will discuss why you made the decision you did in creating your images, describe your inspiration, citing specific ideas from the class readings that shaped your choices, and talk explicitly about other works that inspired your approach.  This creator statement will be 500 words.

Link to Julian Chambliss 

https://www.julianchambliss.com/

MAFANIKIO: Land, Industry, and Information across the African Diaspora - An assignment designed by Dr. Walter Greason

This project requires you to read a scholarly resource about three different historically black communities, neighborhoods, or cities. After reading these sources, you will create an original map of each place, using Google maps to illustrate the neighborhood.  On the map-image, you will identify at least FOUR (4) places of historic importance to the residents, based on your readings. Each place should be highlighted on the map using a digital tool of your choice (Photoshop, ARC-GIS, etc.). Incorporate these highlighted map-images into a PowerPoint file where you describe the sources, the places, and the reasons for your selections in *no less than 30 slides.* Be sure to highlight the themes in Cities Imagined (Tuskegee Universe, Soul City, Wakanda, etc.) as you examine the changing nature of race, space, and place in world history.  You can use the “Exploring Diaspora Arts” PDF (available through Academia) as a guide for your project’s development.  The final written content in your PowerPoint file should include *at least 1500 words and 25 images total.*-- 
 
Link to Walter Greason 

Informational Videos

Music

Television

Film

Quick Looks - Fashion