February 2
through
September 30

2017

BLACK SPACE: Reading (and writing) Ourselves into the Future

Exhibition poster

Imagine a future in which the diverse fabric of humanity, with its multicolored threads, is shaped to create tightly woven tales of heroic galactic adventures and tragic post-apocalyptic dystopias. It can be found in Afrofuturism. With this description “speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of twentieth century technoculture –and, more generally, African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future,” Mark Dery defined what would eventually become a burgeoning field of study and a social movement of African Diasporic artists, scholars, and activists, who set out to challenge the representation of black bodies by non-black writers, to explore blackness by dismantling prescriptive notions of black identity, and to project black narratives into a future space, a Black Space.

The materials assembled in this exhibit introduce visitors to Afrofuturist musicians, authors and speculative artists, and retroactively designated Afrofuturists texts to challenge assumptions about the black experience That is so say, the often racially coded Digital Divide is much narrower than once thought; there is a thriving Black cyberculture populated with Afropunks, Steamfunkers, Bleeks (black geeks) & Blerds (black nerds), and a very active black science fiction community who not only produce a vast body of speculative fiction but who also create  comics, graphic fiction/nonfiction, film and speculative art.  It has also inspired activism and a social justice movement that is dedicated to securing a more equitable future.

Exhibit Panels

speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of twentieth century technoculture –and, more generally, African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future

                  - Mark Dery

Selected images from the exhibit and opening reception:

Ytasha L. Womack speaking at the opening reception.

BE SURE TO GRAB A BUTTON!

When you visit the exhibit in the Lally Reading room. 

(Collect all 3! Available while supplies last.)
 

Dr. Reynaldo Anderson, John Jennings, and Rasheedah Phillips

AfroFuturism Panel Discussion

February 28th, 2017

This public forum in which three outside speakers open the discussion of AfroFuturism to a wider audience.  These speakers include:  John Jennings, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at UC Riverside; Dr. Reynaldo Anderson, Associate Professor of Communication and Chair of the Humanities Department at Harris-Stowe State University; Rasheedah Phillips, community activist and attorney based in Philadelphia.

AfroFuturism Film Series

April 25th - May 30th, 2017

This was a film series presented in conjunction with this exhibit, showcasing 

Schaffer Library hosted this AfroFuturism Film Series every Tuesday at 7:30 pm in the PBK Room (second floor) in conjunction with this exhibit. Click on the poster of scheduled movies to learn more about them. 

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Bookmark: Recommended Readings

Another part of the materials produced by this exhibition is this bookmark, which featured recommended readings of anthologies and collected essays. Click on the image to learn more.

Exhibit Acknowledgements

This exhibit would not have been possible without the generous support of the Mellon: Our Shared Humanities Grant, Schaffer Library Staff, University of Massachusetts - DuBois Library, Schomburg Center for Black Culture, and Schaffer Library Special Collections. I would also like to thank the following individuals for their support: Reynaldo Anderson, Leslee Barkley, Bruce and Matthew Connolly, Deidre Hill Butler, William Garcia, Jennifer Goodwin, Hugh Jenkins, John Jennings, Julie Lohnes, Katherine Lynes, Lori Marso, John Myers, Marshall Peter, Rasheedah Phillips, Stacey Robinson, Gordon Rood, India Spartz, Jermaine Wells, Ytasha Womack, Raik Zaghloul and with very special thanks to Frances Maloy.