Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures edited by Kevin M. Strait and Kinshasha Holman Conwill
Hardcover – Smithsonian Inst Pr – Mar 2023 – 216 pages
Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures explores the evolving and exhilarating concept of Afrofuturism, a lens used to imagine a more empowering future for the Black community through music, art, and speculative fiction. Sumptuous, beautifully designed spreads feature 100 gorgeous illustrations of objects and images that reflect Black identity, agency, creativity, and hope, including: T’Challa’s suit from Black Panther, Octavia Butler’s typewriter, Uhura’s outfit from Star Trek, Sun Ra’s space harp, costumes from Broadway’s The Wiz, handwritten lyrics by Jimi Hendrix, and Janelle Monae’s ArchAndroid dress.
Chapters include essays from a diverse group of scholars who reflect on themes such as legacy, alienation, and activism, with profiles on influential people and objects:
- Foreword & Introduction: Provides background on Afrofuturism
- Chapter 1 – Space is the Place: Reflects on space and its defining connection to Afrofuturism and its African cultural legacy
- Chapter 2 – Speculative Worlds: Explores short stories, Black speculative fiction and sci-fi, comics, and Black superheroes as bastions of Afrofuturist expression
- Chapter 3 – Visualizing Afrofuturism: Analyzes the vast visual culture of Afrofuturism
- Chapter 4 – Musical Futures: Explores Afrofuturism and music
Afrofuturism offers a framework of radical potential to envision Black liberation and alternatives to oppressive structures like white supremacy. Afrofuturism comes at a time of increasing visibility for the concept, both in scholarship and in pop culture, and is a compelling ode to the revolutionary power of Black imagination.
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