The "Robot Voodoo Power" thesis: Afrofuturism and anti-anti-essentialism from Sun Ra to Kool Keith

Show simple item record Rollefson, J. Griffith 2017-05-30T10:33:22Z 2017-05-30T10:33:22Z 2008-03
dc.identifier.citation Rollefson, J. G. (2008) ‘The "Robot Voodoo Power" thesis: Afrofuturism and anti-anti-essentialism from Sun Ra to Kool Keith’, Black Music Research Journal, 28(1), pp. 83-109. en
dc.identifier.volume 28 en
dc.identifier.issued 1 en
dc.identifier.startpage 83 en
dc.identifier.endpage 109 en
dc.identifier.issn 0276-3605
dc.description.abstract In the 1990s the term Afrofuturism emerged to describe a vein of science fiction inspired artistic production that repositions black subjects in a purportedly race free future that is nonetheless coded as white. While ostensibly about the future, Afrofuturism in fact works dialectically with an equally overwritten past to critique the reified distance between racialized fictions of black magic and white science. This study examines this dialectic by focusing on three Afrofuturist musicians: the experimental jazz bandleader Sun Ra, the funk bandleader George Clinton, and the hip hop artist MC Kool Keith. Using the concepts of Ra’s myth-science, Clinton’s P-Funk, and Keith’s robot voodoo power, the article tracks a historical continuity of collapsing fictions of both past and future in Afrofuturist music. Following from Paul Gilroy’s discussion of the unsatisfactory nature of the two critical positions most commonly taken with regard to black identity—the essentialist and anti-essentialist arguments—the article proposes that such Afrofuturist constructions reflect strategic versions of what Gilroy refers to as anti-anti-essentialism. The robot voodoo power thesis thus recognizes in Afrofuturism a dialectical third way out of the double binds and unproductive debates about racial essence and non-essence.
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher Center for Black Music Research - Columbia College Chicago and University of Illinois Press en
dc.rights © 2008, Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in Black Music Research Journal, 28(1), Spring 2008. To access the final published work see en
dc.rights.uri en
dc.subject Voodoo en
dc.subject African American culture en
dc.subject Soul music en
dc.subject Parliaments en
dc.subject Funk en
dc.subject Subjectivity en
dc.subject Robots en
dc.subject Science fiction en
dc.subject Universalism en
dc.subject Narratives en
dc.title The "Robot Voodoo Power" thesis: Afrofuturism and anti-anti-essentialism from Sun Ra to Kool Keith en
dc.type Article (peer-reviewed) en
dc.internal.authorcontactother J. Griffith Rollefson, Music, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. +353-21-490-3000 Email: en
dc.internal.availability Full text available en 2017-05-30T08:17:05Z
dc.description.version Accepted Version en
dc.internal.rssid 268169453
dc.description.status Peer reviewed en
dc.identifier.journaltitle Black Music Research Journal en
dc.internal.copyrightchecked Yes en
dc.internal.licenseacceptance Yes en
dc.internal.IRISemailaddress en

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