Dr Natalie Hyacinth, University of Bristol. Chair: Dr Justin Williams
Online, via Zoom
“Afrofuturism”, a term used to describe artistic explorations and imaginings of Black futures, was coined by cultural critic Mark Dery in 1994. Over the two subsequent decades since its incarnation, the term has been used in various forms by a diverse range of artists, writers and thinkers. The term has also been applied retrospectively to pioneering, innovating musicians, most notably Sun Ra and Lee “Scratch” Perry, and most recently to contemporary musicians such as Janelle Monae and DAWN.
Despite the increasingly recurrent use of Afrofuturism to describe the multifaceted art work of Black artists, musicians and thinkers, I would like to offer a critique of the term, and to think through what its application potentially means for Black experience and Black creative practice in Britain today. My central provocation is this: What does it mean for Black people to have their lives in the now aesthetically constituted in the future?
I posit that part of Afrofuturism’s conceptual limitation is that it reduces the ability of Black people to live fully in the present, reserving liberation and freedom for a fictional, future utopia. To conclude the talk, I propose and explore an alternative vision, a --*BlacK TECHNE//* that views Black Futures as a resolutely present condition, one in which Black humanity lives and thrives in the current NOW.
Natalie Hyacinth is a Senior Research Associate in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies at the University of Bristol. Her research is interdisciplinary, incorporating themes from Cultural Studies, Black Studies and Philosophy. Natalie has worked on a number of academic projects including publishing a report on Black Archives in the UK for the Race in the Geography group for the Royal Geographical Society and makes and thinks about music as part of the Sonic CyberFeminisms collective. Natalie is currently researching the complexities of integration in Bristol as part of the ESRC Everyday Integration project.