Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Research Note: Afrofuturism

"S. Craig Watkin's Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema and Kodo Eshun's More Brilliant Than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction expand both the parameters of Hip Hop and the discourses about and around it, albeit in radically different ways. The cultural heft of Hip Hop informs Watkins's exploration of the rise of African American independent and mainstream cinema in the late eighties and early nineties, and Eshun concentrates on particular musical provenances of Hip Hop in order to interface the genre with other post-WWII black musical practices, including Jazz, Techno, and Jungle, to construct a narrative about a hidden history of black sonic musical experimentation and science fiction. Where Watkins grounds Hip Hop and black cinema squarely in social reality, Eshun does his best to escape the social altogether, focusing instead on the music and the ephemera surrounding it, such as album covers and marginalia etched into the grooves of vinyl. Consequently, their writing styles could not be more different: Watkins constructs his arguments in fairly tradition sociological terms, while Eshun's musings are marked by hyperbole, digressions, and, at times, seemingly stream-of-consciousness vocalizations. Watkins represents 'Afro-realism' where Eshun envisions 'Afrofuturism.'"

Alexander Weheliye. "Keepin' It (Un) Real: Perusing the Boundaries of Hip Hop Culture," CR: The New Centennial Review - Volume 1, Number 2, Fall 2001, pp. 292-293.

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