Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
What is Afrofuturism?
"Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of history that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentrism, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of black people, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past. [The term was] first coined by Mark Dery in 1993, and explored in the late 1990s through conversations led by scholar Alondra Nelson. Afrofuturism addresses themes and concerns of the African diaspora through a technoculture and science fiction lens, encompassing a range of media and artists with a shared interest in envisioning black futures that stem from Afrodiasporic experiences. Seminal Afrofuturistic works include the novels of Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler; the canvases of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Angelbert Metoyer, and the photography of Renée Cox; the explicitly extraterrestrial mythoi of Parliament-Funkadelic, the Jonzun Crew, Warp 9, Deltron 3030, and Sun Ra; and the Marvel Comics character Black Panther."-Wikipedia
Other Useful Sources
There are a lot of very useful sources you can use to research different aspects of African American life and works. Listed here are some that the UofI offers.
The African American Research Center Website
The African American Research Center of the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library is one of several units responsible for building the University Library’s African American Studies collection. The University Library’s African American Studies collection includes materials on the Black experience in the Americas and worldwide outside of Africa. Consisting of more than 100,000 volumes, the collection is distributed throughout the University’s various libraries, with the largest number located in the Main Library book stacks. The African American Research Center is available to anyone looking for facts, books, articles, or other media, about the Black experience in the Americas and the African diaspora.
University Archives Guide to African-American Research Resources
This guide is intended as a starting point for finding source materials regarding the history of African-Americans at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. As such, the items it describes are generally not available on-line. They can be used for research in the University Archives. Please contact the archives to arrange to view the materials on site. If you are unable to visit the Archives, several fee-based services are available.
African American Literature
This guide is intended to introduce students to the University Library's resources for studying and researching African American literature, how to use the Library's research resources for African-American literature and related areas of study, and general research methods for literary studies.
Ethnography of the University Project: Books and Papers-African American Experience
A page in a guide that is part of the Ethnography of the University Project. There are links to various academic sources for the study of the African American Experience.
Empowerment through Position: African Americans Taking Political Charge
A guide on various resources about African Americans and their influence in politics.
Rap and Hip-Hop Research Resources
A guide on rap and hip-hop with different groups of peoples take on the genre. Use it comprehensively or as a quick reference to one aspect of rap and hip-hop materials.
Some books on AfroFuturism
Afrofuturism by 2014 Locus Awards Finalist, Nonfiction Category In this hip, accessible primer to the music, literature, and art of Afrofuturism, author Ytasha Womack introduces readers to the burgeoning community of artists creating Afrofuturist works, the innovators from the past, and the wide range of subjects they explore. From the sci-fi literature of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin to the musical cosmos of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am, to the visual and multimedia artists inspired by African Dogon myths and Egyptian deities, the book's topics range from the "alien" experience of blacks in America to the "wake up" cry that peppers sci-fi literature, sermons, and activism. With a twofold aim to entertain and enlighten, Afrofuturists strive to break down racial, ethnic, and social limitations to empower and free individuals to be themselves.
Publication Date: 2013
Afrofuturism 2. 0 by The ideas and practices related to afrofuturism have existed for most of the 20th century, especially in the north American African diaspora community. After Mark Dery coined the word "afrofuturism" in 1993, Alondra Nelson as a member of an online forum, along with other participants, began to explore the initial terrain and intellectual underpinnings of the concept noting that "AfroFuturism has emerged as a term of convenience to describe analysis, criticism and cultural production that addresses the intersections between race and technology." Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astroblackness represents a transition from previous ideas related to afrofuturism that were formed in the late 20th century around issues of the digital divide, music and literature. Afrofuturism 2.0 expands and broadens the discussion around the concept to include religion, architecture, communications, visual art, philosophy and reflects its current growth as an emerging global Pan African creative phenomenon.
Publication Date: 2017
Mothership by Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond is a groundbreaking speculative fiction anthology that showcases the work from some of the most talented writers inside and outside speculative fiction across the globe--including Junot Diaz, Victor LaValle, Lauren Beukes, N. K. Jemisin, Rabih Alameddine, S. P. Somtow, and more. These authors have earned such literary honors as the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker, among others.
Publication Date: 2013
A Pure Solar World by Sun Ra said he came from Saturn. Known on earth for his inventive music and extravagant stage shows, he pioneered free-form improvisation in an ensemble setting with the devoted band he called the "Arkestra." Sun Ra took jazz from the inner city to outer space, infusing traditional swing with far-out harmonies, rhythms, and sounds. Described as the father of Afrofuturism, Sun Ra created "space music" as a means of building a better future for American blacks here on earth. A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism offers a spirited introduction to the life and work of this legendary but underappreciated musician, composer, and poet. Paul Youngquist explores and assesses Sun Ra's wide-ranging creative output--music, public preaching, graphic design, film and stage performance, and poetry--and connects his diverse undertakings to the culture and politics of his times, including the space race, the rise of technocracy, the civil rights movement, and even space-age bachelor-pad music. By thoroughly examining the astro-black mythology that Sun Ra espoused, Youngquist masterfully demonstrates that he offered both a holistic response to a planet desperately in need of new visions and vibrations and a new kind of political activism that used popular culture to advance social change. In a nation obsessed with space and confused about race, Sun Ra aimed not just at assimilation for the socially disfranchised but even more at a wholesale transformation of American society and a more creative, egalitarian world.
Publication Date: 2016
Afro-Future Females by Afro-Future Females: Black Writers Chart Science Fiction's Newest New-Wave Trajectory,edited by Marleen S. Barr, is the first combined science fiction critical anthology and short story collection to focus upon black women via written and visual texts. The volume creates a dialogue with existing theories of Afro-Futurism in order to generate fresh ideas about how to apply race to science fiction studies in terms of gender. The contributors, including Hortense Spillers, Samuel R. Delany, Octavia E. Butler, and Steven Barnes, formulate a woman-centered Afro-Futurism by repositioning previously excluded fiction to redefine science fiction as a broader fantastic endeavor. They articulate a platform for scholars to mount a vigorous argument in favor of redefining science fiction to encompass varieties of fantastic writing and, therefore, to include a range of black women's writing that would otherwise be excluded. Afro-Future Females builds upon Barr's previous work in black science fiction and fills a gap in the literature. It is the first critical anthology to address the "blackness" of outer space fiction in terms of feminism, emphasizing that it is necessary to revise the very nature of a genre that has been constructed in such a way as to exclude its new black participants. Black science fiction writers alter genre conventions to change how we read and define science fiction itself. The work's main point: black science fiction is the most exciting literature of the nascent twenty-first century.
Publication Date: 2008
Black Kirby by A catalog of primarily visual artworks-on-paper, this collection is the work of a creative duo that makes up the collaborative entity, Black Kirby. Their art celebrates the groundbreaking work of legendary comic creator Jack Kirby and functions as a highly syncretic mytho-poetic framework by appropriating Kirby's bold forms and revolutionary ideas combined with themes centered on AfroFuturism, social justice, Black history, media criticism, science fiction, magical realism, and the utilization of Hip Hop culture as a methodology for creating visual expression. Their work also focuses on the digital medium: how its inherent affordances offer much more flexibility in the expression of visual communication and what that means in its production and consumption in the public sphere. In a sense, Black Kirby appropriates the gallery as a conceptual crossroads to examine identity as a socialized concept, and to show the commonalities between Black comics creators and Jewish comics creators and how both utilize the medium of comics as space of resistance. The duo attempts to re-medicate blackness and other identity contexts as sublime technologies that produce experiences that can limit human progress and possibility.
Publication Date: 2015