Afrofuturism, African-American Music and Female Agency
A Blog Post by Pablo Markin.
In her article, Nathalie Aghoro has explored how Afrofuturist musicians Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae “design alternate projections of world/subject relations through the development of artistic personas with speculative background narratives and the fictional emplacement of their music within alternate cultural imaginaries” (330). The scholar has concentrated on the identitarian fluidity of these black female artists to approach “instances of othering and exclusion by associating these with science fiction tropes of extraterrestrial, alien lives to [also] express topical sociocultural criticism” (330).
For this purpose, Aghoro investigates “notions of agency and gender in the context of Afrofuturism” (331), while concentrating on the “[b]lack diasporic experience [that] resonates with outer space imaginaries because these display similar imbalances in power relations along disenfranchising dichotomies of racialization, gender, and class while telling stories about the crossing of thresholds, the exploration of new frontiers, or the multifarious assemblages of hybrid and liminal identities” (331). As this author argues, the importance of Afrofuturist lies in its ability to counter the “pervasive objectification of black bodies with the resistant conception of technologically well-versed and empowered subjects whose becoming takes place beyond oppressive master narratives” (332).
Based on her study of Badu and Monáe’s works, such as music albums, Aghoro concludes that, “[b]uilding on motherhood tropes and womanist ideas, Badu simultaneously affirms and redefines black womanhood while Monáe’s gender-bending performances deconstruct or rather overwrite female/male dichotomies” (339). According to Aghoro, the works of these performers “prove that social change needs visions and utopian ideas that popular culture at its best is able to provide” (339).
By Pablo Markin
Featured Image Credits: Montréal 03 octobre 2013 – Neptune’s Moons (Kaie Kellough & Jason Sharp – Dark Matter), October 3, 2013 | © Courtesy of blogocram/Flickr.