The Audacity to Imagine Alternative Futures: An Afrofuturist Analysis of Sojourner Truth and Janelle Monae's Performances of Black Womanhood as Instruments of Liberation

by Jennifer Williams

Institution: Temple University
Year: 2016
Keywords: African American studies; Gender studies
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2127525
Full text PDF: http://digital.library.temple.edu/u?/p245801coll10,390887


African American Studies I examine Sojourner Truth and Janelle Monáe’s identity performances to identify some strategies and tactics Black women use to transgress externally defined myths of Black womanhood. I propose that both of these women use their identity as a liberation technology - a spiritual, emotional, physical, and/or intellectual tool constructed and/or wielded by Africana agents. They wield their identity, like an instrument, and use it to emancipate Africana people from the physical and metaphoric chains that restrict them from reproducing their cultural imperatives. I argue that both Truth and Monáe consciously fashion complex narratives of revolutionary Black womanhood as a way to disseminate their identities in ways that “destroy the societal expectations” of Black womanhood and empowers women to reclaim their ability to imagine self-defined Black womanhoods. I analyze the performance texts of Truth and Monáe using Afrofuturism, a theoretical perspective concerned with Africana agents’ speculation of their futures and the functionality of Africana agents’ technologies. Its foundational assumption is the pantechnological perspective, a theory that assumes “everything can be interpreted as a type of technology.” When examining Africana agency using an Afrofuturism perspective, the researcher should examine the devices, techniques, and processes – externally or intra-culturally generated – that have the potential to influence Africana social development. Temple University – Theses Advisors/Committee Members: Asante, Molefi K;.