Heard on CultureShift

Sonic Assembly: Exploring the Roots of Afrofuturism and Its Legacy in Present Day

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Image credit: Science Gallery Detroit

Afrofuturism is an ideology with strong roots in the city of Detroit. From musical acts like Parliament-funkadelic to authors like Clarence Young, the breadth and scope of its influence is wide.

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In collaboration with the Science Gallery Detroit and the Concert of Colors, WDET presents Sonic Assembly: On Afrofuturism and Performance.

Listen to a conversation with scholar Dr. Julian Chambliss and hear an in-studio performance from Detroit artist, poet and performer Natasha T. Miller as we explore the roots of the Afrofuturism movement and its legacy in the present day. We’ll also explore the music of Detroit producer, vocalist and performer Kesswa, as well as composer and founder of the indie rock/neo-soul project called “Composetheway,” Jordyn Davis. 

Afrofuturism is an ideology with strong roots in the city of Detroit. From musical acts like Parliament-funkadelic to authors like Clarence Young, the breadth and scope of its influence is wide.

Dr. Julian Chambliss is a Michigan State University English professor and a renowned author and speaker on pop culture, comics, the African Diaspora, and the influence of Afrofuturism.

Afrofuturism is ”the intersection between speculation and liberation,” says Chambliss.

A lot of people of African descent are concerned, both with freedom, and also how to get it so they continuously are thinking outside the box because the box they’re in, especially in the African American context, the history is one of people speculating around being free,” he says. “And they do that as almost generational practice. How are we all here? Well that’s because at some point in the past, some ancestor you had said, ‘I’m gonna survive this, because my descendants will have better.’ … You’re making a decision for yourself but you’re also making it for future generations. So it’s a commitment in a systemic kind of way.”

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