Vessels of Transfer: Allegories of Afrofuturism in Jeff Mills and Janelle Monáe

tobias c. van Veen
2013 Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture  
The performances, music, and subjectivities of Detroit techno producer Jeff Mills-radio turntablist The Wizard, space-and-time traveller The Messenger, founding member of Detroit techno outfit Underground Resistance and head of Axis Records-and Janelle Monáe-android #57821, Cindi Mayweather, denizen and "cyber slavegirl" of Metropolis-are infused with the black Atlantic imaginary of Afrofuturism. We might understand Mills and Monáe as disseminating, in the words of Paul Gilroy, an Afrofuturist
more » ... cultural broadcast" that feeds "a new metaphysics of blackness" enacted "within the underground, alternative, public spaces constituted around an expressive culture . . . dominated by music" (Gilroy 1993: 83 ). Yet what precisely is meant by "blackness"-the black Atlantic of Gilroy's Afrodiasporic cultural network-in a context that is Afrofuturist? At stake is the role of allegory and its infrastructure: does Afrofuturism, and its incarnates, "represent" blackness? Or does it tend toward an unhinging of allegory, in which the coordinates of blackness, but also those of linear temporality and terrestial subjectivity, are transformed through becoming?
doi:10.12801/1947-5403.2013.05.02.02 fatcat:moo6ubxb5vgvnmrsi2v2rdapbu