Sonic Afrofuturism: Blackness, electronic music production and visions of the future
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This thesis is an exploration and analysis of the ways in which we might use varying forms of Black thought, theory, and art to think Blackness anew. For this purpose I work with electronic music from Nigeria and Detroit between 1976 and 1993, as well as with works of science fiction by W.E.B. Du Bois, Samuel Delany, Ralph Ellison, and Octavia Butler. Through a conceptual framework provided by theorists such as Fred Moten and Kodwo Eshun and the philosophical work of Afrofuturists like Delany, Ellison, Butler, and Du Bois, I explore the outer limits of what is possible when doing away with a canon of philosophy that predetermines our thinking of Blackness. This exploration also takes me to the possible depths of what this disavowal of a canon might mean and how we work with sound, the aural, and the sonic in rethinking the figuring of Blackness. This thesis is also be woven together by the theory of the Black Radical Tradition – following Cedric Robinson and Fred Moten specifically. At the centre of this thesis, and radiating outwards, is the assertion that a set of texts developed for a University of the West – Occidental philosophy as I refer to it in the thesis – is wholly insufficient in attempting to become attuned to the possibilities of Blackness. The thesis, finally, is a critique of ethnomusicology and its necessity for a native object, as well as sound studies, which fails to conceptualise any semblance of Black noise.