Afrofuturism panel at MMLA: Invitation to submit abstracts, permanent session
“If you are not a myth whose reality are you? If you are not a reality whose myth are you?” –Sun Ra, Prophetika, Book One
Since the publication of Mark Dery’s now-seminal article on Afrofuturism, “Black to the Future” (1993), several critical studies have expanded the concept of black speculative fiction and claimed it as a full-fledged genre of its own. Indeed, the mainstream releases of a graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Marvel’s Black Panther and Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time point to the existence of what we might now might call an “Afrofuturist canon.”
However important the establishment of Afrofuturism as a genre, the fact remains that as a whole, it is strikingly Anglo-centric. Of particular significance is the omission of Afro-Latin American and Caribbean cultural productions from the genre, given that most Afro-descendants living in the Americas actually reside in countries other than the United States. In fact, despite being frequently written off as folkloric and/or magical realist, or simply ignored because they’re published in languages other than English, authors and artists in Latin America and the Caribbean have long contributed to Afrofuturist conversations. From Machado de Assis’s The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (1881) to Mário de Andrade’s Macunaíma (1928) to Manuel Zapata Olivella’s Changó: el gran Putas to Conceição Evaristo’s Ponciá Vicêncio, Latin American authors often use fantasy and science fiction in work that foregrounds the experiences of black folks.
This panel seeks to address the omission of Afro-Latin work from discussions of afrofuturism by bringing together proposals that analyze the genre in Brazil. We are interested in proposals that engage with Afrofuturism as a broadly defined project located at the intersection of blackness, technology, fantasy and/or science fiction. As such, we invite presentations that analyze—for example—Gilberto Gil’s soundtrack for Quilombo (1984), Hugo Canuto’s reimagination of the Orishas through comic books, or the use of digital technology to limit the violence of the state against black bodies (as analyzed by Christen Anne Smith, 2016). While this panel is grounded in the significance of afrofuturism for (Afro)-Luso-Brazilian studies, we also welcome submissions that address texts or performances from other areas of Latin America and the Caribbean that engage with afrofuturism. Submissions may be written in Portuguese, English or Spanish.
MMLA will be held Nov. 15-18, 2018 in Kansas City, MO.