panel

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Actualized Truths, Global Inheritances: Black Youth Practice Digital Diaspora

keywords:

youth social movements

digital and new media cultures

african diaspora

Everyday youth of African descent are creating and sharing Black (and often, African) centered identities in digital and physical space and across temporalities. Multiethnic black young people are foregrounding blacknesses, and their far-ranging progeny, as their birthrights and are drawing upon practices rendered “diasporic” through a variety of processes in order to survive and to express their lived truths. However, in both digital and traditional lived spaces, they negotiate one-dimensional fractured, and fundamentally antiblack, caricatures that help to commodify, delimit, and ultimately harm them. Through them, these young people are bombarded with images of themselves and their global counterparts as violent racial others needing to be policed and/or they experience themselves as desired commodities or global consumers and not as intentional and informed agents of their lives. Seldom are young Africans on the continent or abroad seen as cultural producers of global consequence, even under the “critical” lenses of anthropology, cultural studies, or African Diaspora Studies. Actualized Truths, Global Inheritances: Black Youth Practice Digital Diaspora situates young people on the continent, and those who have recently migrated away from it, at the center of diasporic cultural production. Unlike much work that centers the lives and practices of the Black Atlantic to understand Black Diaspora, the works here help lay bare the ways diasporic belonging can emerge from practice and overlapping experiences of precarity in the present (provided by the sprawling “predicament of blackness”) as much, if not more than, from a sense of shared origins. Helping to fill a considerable gap in new media studies, and the digital humanities overall, this panel facilitates convening, an intergenerational discussion of scholars and creatives, works that, from different vantage points, look to the ways young people of the African Diaspora shape and reshape their identities through new media technologies in tandem and in tension with other modalities of daily life. Some of our points of inquiry include: Nigerian youth “selling back” performances of Western imaginings of African-ness and Africans in online scams to Westerners as a strategic response to economic insecurities wrought by globalization and corruption; Liberian and Sierra Leonean young people situating themselves within the extant timelines of Atlantic Slavery, African colonialism, and late capitalism in ways that acknowledge distinct historical trajectories alongside a collective state of consummability and disposability among global black youth; African Diaspora youth in East Asia and how they are remixing global and local imaginations of their identities online, in media and everyday life; the ways that young African feminists are using digital tools to organize; interpreting the work of young new media artists in South Africa and Kenya through the framework of “technological disruptions”•events in virtual space that conflict with the intentions of a status quo•while also investigating themes of Afrofuturist fiction.

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