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Continuing in the thread of our class discussions about cyborgs and feminism, I wanted to share something a little less academic and a little more artistic and fun: Janelle Monáe. 

Janelle Monáe is a singer/songwriter who has been performing and centring her albums around a fictional android woman named Cindi Mayweather, “an indentured android who becomes aware of the unfairness she and her fellow robots suffer at the hands of the ruling humans” (source). She has been following this narrative through several albums, all with a strong technological, science fiction kind of bent.

Many of the ideas presented in her music (and contained in her persona and performances in general) are about marginalized groups, often focusing on feminism, black music, LGBTQ+ issues and working class families. Her albums bring together an overarching narrative about oppression and freedom and the Other, situated firmly in science fiction concepts. 

Janelle Monáe’s musical style is often referred to as Afrofuturism, a “literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies”(source). In the spirit of science/speculative fiction, it is often used to create a dialogue about issues of the past, through the lens of future and it focuses heavily on the “african diaspora”(source). One of the major contributors to modern day Afrofuturism is science fiction and fantasy author Octavia Butler (part of my post last week about the Hugo Awards for science fiction and fantasy). Afrofuturism is its own distinct movement, but I think it’s worth discussing in relation to cyborg feminism, particularly as it adds additional intersectionality to the discussion. 

“A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction…the boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion.” (The Cyborg Manifesto, Donna Haraway) 

BitchMedia has a good article talking about Afrofuturism here: https://bitchmedia.org/article/black-to-the-future-afrofuturism-feminism-music-janelle-monae-kelis-ebony-bones-theesatisfaction

“It’s hard to stop rebels that time travel, but we at the time council pride ourselves on doing just that.Welcome to the living museum, where legendary rebels from throughout history have been frozen in suspended animation. Here, in this particular exhibit, you’ll find members of Wondaland and their notorious leader Janelle Monáe, along with her dangerous accomplice Badoula Oblongata. Together, they launched project Q.U.E.E.N., a musical weapons program in the 21st century. Researchers are still deciphering the nature of this program and hunting the various freedom movements that Wondaland disguised as songs, emotion pictures, and works of art.” (From Q.U.E.E.N (feat. Erykah Badu))

Bonus: Janelle Monáe also performed a sort of performance art, protest piece with several other artists, in response to #blacklivesmatter, which some of you may find interesting. (linked here)

Additional Resources:

anonymous asked:

Oka was wandering around the city, on her way to the mall as she hummed to herself quietly. (@supernaturuu)

Suddenly someone bumped into her.  “Dang it… I’m so sorry! Are you okay there?” A young {human} female brunette wearing a school uniform was looking at her with concern. She adjusted her glasses as she looked at Oka with curiosity. “Hey… do go to Akademi High School?”