Skip to main content

MIT Libraries logo MIT Libraries

Search Account

MIT Reads: Dawn by Octavia Butler: Afrofuturism

Dawn is the first book in Butler's Xenogenesis series.

"Whether through literature, visual arts, music, or grassroots organizing, Afrofuturists redefine culture and notions of blackness for today and the future. Both an artistic aesthetic and a framework for critical theory, Afrofuturism combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western beliefs. In some cases, it’s a total reenvisioning of the past and speculation about the future rife with cultural critiques."

- Ytasha Womack, Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture

A Reimagining, A Reclaiming

What would the future look like for people of African descent without white or Western influence? What would modern society look like with that greater possibility? Afrofuturism transcends media in its manifestations, and had its roots as early as the 1960s with jazz musician Sun Ra's experimental performances and influential poetry. 

With the opening of Black Panther, Janelle Monáe's newest contribution to the genre: Dirty Computer, and the announced adaptations of Octavia Butler's works, the cultural movement and aesthetic is undergoing a renaissance.

 

Betty Davis album cover "They Say I'm Different"Janelle Monae's album The Archandroid

Black Magic

In 2015, the Corridor Gallery in New York featured an Afrofuturist exhibit curated by Niama Safia Sandy 

Sandy was also interviewed for ThinkProgress

Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe is another icon bringing Afrofuturism into the mainstream. Below is one of her short films, Many Moons:

Helpful Links

In Sound

Included in Alyssa Mercante's visual guide to Afrofuturism is her curated playlist

 

Music Videos, Trailers, Clips