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Open Cultural Studies

Editor-in-Chief: Miller, Toby

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Agency in the Afrofuturist Ontologies of Erykah Badu and Janelle Monáe

Nathalie Aghoro
Published Online: 2018-11-10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0030


This article discusses the visual, textual, and musical aesthetics of selected concept albums (Vinyl/CD) by Afrofuturist musicians Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae. It explores how the artists design alternate projections of world/subject relations through the development of artistic personas with speculative background narratives and the fictional emplacement of their music within alternate cultural imaginaries. It seeks to establish that both Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae use the concept album as a platform to constitute their Afrofuturist artistic personas as fluid black female agents who are continuously in the process of becoming, evolving, and changing. They reinscribe instances of othering and exclusion by associating these with science fiction tropes of extraterrestrial, alien lives to express topical sociocultural criticism and promote social change in the context of contemporary U.S. American politics and black diasporic experience.

Keywords: conceptual art; Afrofuturism; gender performance; black music; artistic persona


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About the article

Received: 2018-05-21

Accepted: 2018-09-26

Published Online: 2018-11-10

Published in Print: 2018-11-01

Citation Information: Open Cultural Studies, Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 330–340, ISSN (Online) 2451-3474, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0030.

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© by Nathalie Aghoro, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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