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From Counter-Memory to Counter-Culture: Black Islam in the U.S. Through a Mundane Afrofuturist Lens

This graduate thesis is a multi-generational look at moments of Mundane Afrofuturism (as theorized by Martine Syms) within the lives of Black Muslims in the U.S., emphasizing the concepts of counter-memory and counter-culture as key cultural and political approaches toward subversion and innovation. Consisting of three artworks, the exhibition space is intended to act as an unveiling of information, recognizing Black folks’ historical and ongoing relationship to accessing knowledge. 

Making a Case for W.E.B. Du Bois as a Proto-Afrofuturist

This essay situates political activist, sociologist, and artist (amongst many additional attributes) William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868 - 1963) within the foundational framework of Afrofuturism. Coined by writer and critic Mark Dery in 1993, the term Afrofuturism denotes creative works - artistic, literary and musical - that seek to envision a more equitable space for Black livelihood in the future. Implicit within Afrofuturism is a critique of a society where Black people currently are, and historically have been, victims of a multitude of systemic oppressions. Referring to Martine Sym’s theories of the mundane versus fantastic aspects of Afrofuturism in her film The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto (2015), in this essay I study specific actions and moments in Du Bois’ life in which he engages with both the “mundane” and the fantastical aspects of Afrofuturism. I position Du Bois’ political actions and sociologcal research, such as his debate with Booker T Washington’s 1895 “Atlanta Compromise” and his data visualizations in The Georgia Negro: A Social Study (1900), within the mundane aspect of Afrofuturism. Conversely, I frame Du Bois’ speculative fiction writings, such as The Princess Steel (1908-1910) and The Comet (1920), within the fantastical. By claiming Du Bois as a Proto Afrofuturist, I assert Du Bois’ contemporary relevance. Du Bois wrote from the same tech-driven core we use to operate big data with today. Perusing the clear afrofuturist mindset in the praxis of W.E.B. Du Bois’ life’s work helps to situate him firmly within the Black Radical Tradition.    

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On Perception: Reality and Approaching Renewal

This essay combines the thoughts of John Berger's Ways of Seeing, Jean Baudrillard's The Precession of the Simulacra, and Rebecca Solnit's The Annihilation of Time and Space to examine how humans have evolved to perceive space-time in regard to the industrial revolution(s); semiotics and iconology; and simulation-based media.  

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A Black Space

This essay surveys Towson University’s Center for the Arts Spring 2017 Dark Humor exhibition featuring artists Joyce J. Scott and Peter Williams in addition to situating Radcliffe Bailey’s 2008-2011 installation Windward Coast within the fold of Afrofuturism by way of guest lecturer Nikki A. Greene.