Afrofuturism Network founder will speak at Pitt-Greensburg this week
“Afrofuturism” may have been coined as a term in the mid-1990s, but its mark can be seen across the spectrum of black culture over the years.
Loosely defined as the intersection of African diaspora culture with modern technology, it could be glimpsed in the out-there jazz and space-age costumes employed by Sun Ra and his band, the Arkestra, as well as the futuristic funk of George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic.
More recently, its tenets were on display in Marvel’s “Black Panther” film, which envisioned a technologically-advanced society — the fictional African nation of Wakanda — which was hidden from the world for many years.
On Wednesday, it will be on display at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, where Afrofuturism Network founder William Jones will discuss the representation of black people in various media — comic books and science-fiction films — and their history.
A historian, comic reader, writer and educator, Jones is the author of the 2016 book, “The Ex-Con, Voodoo Priest, Goddess, and the African King: A Social, Cultural, and Political Analysis of Four Black Comic Book Heroes.”
“We want to raise awareness of what Afrofuturism is and how it is presented in film and comics,” said Al Thiel, director of the student center and student involvement at Pitt-Greensburg. “One of the campus’ ongoing goals is to provide programming that presents a viewpoint of diversity across a variety of topics and to provide guided practice opportunities for students to develop their skills for respectful engagement.”
Playing a part in the discussion at Pitt-Greensburg will be the 2018 box-office smash, “Black Panther,” which has been nominated for eight Academy Awards. Pitt-Greensburg students will have the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned during the discussion when the movie is screened on campus the following night.
Jones will tackle the topic of recent blackface controversies, and correlations between real history and the representations of black people in comics at various points in time.
Jones’ talk will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Village Hall 118 on the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg campus, 150 Finoli Drive. It is free and open to the public.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .