Emory University might seem like an odd place for the Mothership to land, but in this case, George Clinton would likely approve.
It certainly seems appropriate that an AfroFuturist conference titled "Alien Bodies: Race, Space and Sex in the African Diaspora" would take place this weekend on the home turf of resident ATLiens OutKast and their musical ilk. Even the conference logo is designed by Atlanta-based artist/musician Corrine Stevie, who describes herself as an "oddity."
In the last decade, AfroFuturism has increasingly grown as a field of study among academics attempting to encompass a wide breadth of what Dr. Alondra Nelson of Columbia University calls "black artistic diasporic production."
From the spaced-out free jazz of Sun Ra to Octavia Butler's speculative science fiction, there's a rich lineage of black artists and writers who bridge the historical worldview of African-American alienation and otherness with an undying sense of hope for the future.
In the video below, keynote speaker Dr. Nelson places another resident ATLien, Janelle Monáe, in the context of AfroFuturism. She speaks Friday at 4:15 p.m.
The conference, which continues Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8-9, includes a mishmash of topics related to the state of black identity, especially as performed within pop culture. Just check out some of the provocative titles of papers being presented:
>> "Listening to The Love Below: Outkast's Afrofuturistic Eroticism" (James Ford, Occidental College)
>> "Auto-Tune's pitch syncopation and the alien temporality of blackness" (Matthew Won, Independent Scholar)
>> "Fear Into Fire: Reclaiming Black Male Identity Through the Art of Tattooing" (Nicole Harrison, New York University)
>> "Becoming Wifey: The (Re)construction of Gendered Bodies through Basketball Wives" (Stephanie Jones, University of Georgia)
>> "We have very little in common with the vampires Bram Stoker described in Dracula: Afrofuturist Feminism in Black Women's Vampire Literature" (Susana Morris, Auburn University)
There's a whole panel of speakers devoted to dissecting the writings of Octavia Butler ("What We Mean When We Say Butler: Alien Bodies and Speculative Fiction") from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. on Saturday. And there's an interesting paper titled "Enqu(ee)r(y)ing Minds Want to Know: Is You Gay?! Or, An Episodic Moment in a Single Ladies Life," scheduled during the Queer Subject as Species and Spectacle series.
In addition to panels and keynote speaker Dr. Nelson, the conference will feature "artistic performances, wellness seminars, political talk-show hosts, a DJ party, live online streaming of panels, continuous conference tweeting, and live blogging via google docs." It's hosted by Emory's African American Studies Collective.
The conference is free, so get in where you fit in. Or follow the conference on Twitter for minute-by-minute updates.
Alien Bodies: Race, Space, and Sex in the African Diaspora. (Click for full program.) Feb. 8-9. Emory University.
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