Afrofuturism and Solarpunk
October 31, 2019 4:09 AM   Subscribe

In Search of Afro-Solarpunk - Part 1: Elements of Afrofuturism. Part 2: Social Justice is Survival Technology. On Tor.com Rob Cameron writes about the intersecting interests of Afrofuturism and solarpunk, and how they might integrate further and more fruitfully.

"I believe that when combined, the alchemy of these two sub-genres will produce an elixir that is medicinal to Afrofuturism, lifesaving to solarpunk, and healing to all who create in or explore their shared spaces."

In Part 1 Cameron explores the history of Afrofuturism as a term and as a critical lens for interrogating "some very bad science fiction".

"The arc of history does not naturally bend towards justice. Neither does the trajectory of science fiction. Both must be bent. Producing and disseminating Afrofuturist stories and integrating them with sci-fi are integral to that great feat of emotional labor. However, there is no just future built atop (or buried under) the dystopian wreckage of an environment in freefall. Make way for Afro-solarpunk."

In Part 2 Cameron looks at solarpunk, divisions within solarpunk platforms and communities, and the abuse of the term for surface-level aesthetics that forgo the concept's anti-racist and pro-social justice potential.

"If solarpunk finds solutions to environmental problems that do not uplift marginalized communities, then we’re just outsourcing suffering to build a New Elysium atop dystopian favelas."

Of particular note are Part 2's copious and excellent links and resources, prepared " in the interest of connection, outreach, and inspiration". These are aimed at writers and artists interested in making and collaborating on new Afrosolarpunk art and stories.

There is a bibliography of Black speculative fiction writers, of essayists and architects working on the urban setting as a focus for solarpunk, of notable Solarpunk editors and editors with a history of publishing Black and Afrofuturist writers, and of facebook communities who would be receptive towards outreach and symposia.
posted by ocular shenanigans (8 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
These were tremendous posts, thanks for sharing
posted by tinlids at 4:25 AM on October 31


This is interesting, and now my "to read" list is getting yet larger. But TBH when I saw "Afro-Solarpunk" my first thought was that this was a music genre I had not yet explored and I was really excited.
posted by jzb at 4:44 AM on October 31 [1 favorite]


This is interesting, and now my "to read" list is getting yet larger.

This.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:13 AM on October 31


"If solarpunk finds solutions to environmental problems that do not uplift marginalized communities, then we’re just outsourcing suffering to build a New Elysium atop dystopian favelas."

My heart is screaming! Yes! This is unfortunately a common flaw in my favorite genre, southern Gothic. If it doesn't deal with racial or patriarchal subjugation, is it really southern Gothic? Anyway, back on topic -

As previously stated, Black communities have a special relationship with technology in the Americas. Without putting too fine a point on it, for a time we were the technology, legally transformed from human to machine and then partially back again (Kakoudaki, 2014). Robot/slave narratives that do not take this into account are built on shaky ground from the start.
Detroit: Become Human tries to touch on this to varying levels of success. I think most tries to explore this falls flat. This is an emerging concept for me so bear with me as I try to understand it myself. All of it hinges on the (totally correct) idea that it's inherently wrong to enslave a sentient being. I'd really like to see stories challenge the power in the system. The conditions that produce a slave master are wrong, even if that person doesn't own slaves. Consumption, monopolies, private property, greed, power, otherization, class systems, with or without slavery, is wrong. It would be impossible (and reckless and immoral) to explore this outside the confines of race. The very concept of race at all is one of the evils that a lot of robots-as-slaves stories really doesn't flesh out fully. Sorry, i know this is very rambley.

TL;DR: "Owning people is bad" is true but a really shallow analysis of the deep nature of slavery, and I think solarpunk, with roots in afrofuturism, would be the perfect setting to really explore the entire system that slavery was born from, and what true liberation looks like.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:38 AM on October 31 [1 favorite]


This is an emerging concept for me so bear with me as I try to understand it myself. All of it hinges on the (totally correct) idea that it's inherently wrong to enslave a sentient being. I'd really like to see stories challenge the power in the system

You should really read Rossum's Universal Robots. It's the play that introduced the word Robot to the world, and that's the core of the plot. It's been part of the discourse from the beginning.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:26 AM on October 31 [1 favorite]


It's been a part of the discourse since the beginning, yes, but the aspect that it is explicitly about slavery and labor is often ignored, especially in movies where the robot seeking freedom almost invariably becomes the robot seeking to destroy the master.

It's almost the same evolution as Zombies, who were originally black and Haitian, enslaved after death, and then somehow just became the terrifying Other. Relentless! What could they possibly want?
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:55 AM on October 31 [2 favorites]


These were great and now I have more things I need to read.
posted by PMdixon at 10:51 AM on October 31


Really excited to see this. I published one of the works cited (Sunvault) and run a regular twitter chat #SolarpunChat (3rd Saturday of most months). Would love to see more of you there!
posted by joannemerriam at 12:50 PM on October 31 [3 favorites]


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