The Aliens have landed at Emory

Emory University might seem like an odd place for the Mothership to land, but in this case even George Clinton would likely approve. The Alien Bodies conference takes place this weekend


  • Alien Bodies conference logo by Corinne Stevie

Emory University might seem like an odd place for the Mothership to land, but in this case, George Clinton would likely approve.

It certainly seems appropriate that an AfroFuturist conference titled “Alien Bodies: Race, Space and Sex in the African Diaspora” would take place this weekend on the home turf of resident ATLiens OutKast and their musical ilk. Even the conference logo is designed by Atlanta-based artist/musician Corrine Stevie, who describes herself as an “oddity.”

In the last decade, AfroFuturism has increasingly grown as a field of study among academics attempting to encompass a wide breadth of what Dr. Alondra Nelson of Columbia University calls “black artistic diasporic production.”

From the spaced-out free jazz of Sun Ra to Octavia Butler’s speculative science fiction, there’s a rich lineage of black artists and writers who bridge the historical worldview of African-American alienation and otherness with an undying sense of hope for the future.

In the video below, keynote speaker Dr. Nelson places another resident ATLien, Janelle Monáe, in the context of AfroFuturism. She speaks Friday at 4:15 p.m.

The conference, which continues Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8-9, includes a mishmash of topics related to the state of black identity, especially as performed within pop culture. Just check out some of the provocative titles of papers being presented:

>> “Listening to The Love Below: Outkast’s Afrofuturistic Eroticism” (James Ford, Occidental College)

>> “Auto-Tune’s pitch syncopation and the alien temporality of blackness” (Matthew Won, Independent Scholar)

>> “Fear Into Fire: Reclaiming Black Male Identity Through the Art of Tattooing” (Nicole Harrison, New York University)

>> “Becoming Wifey: The (Re)construction of Gendered Bodies through Basketball Wives” (Stephanie Jones, University of Georgia)

>> “We have very little in common with the vampires Bram Stoker described in Dracula: Afrofuturist Feminism in Black Women’s Vampire Literature” (Susana Morris, Auburn University)