Building an Afrofuturist Vision: Black Counterpublics and Visual Culture Summer 2022
One way Afrofuturism challenges our understanding of knowledge production is through critical making, which artists Stacey Robinson and John Jennings describe as a methodological approach that insists that scholars and artists engage with broader critical and cultural conversation through the act of making. From an aesthetic perspective, contemporary Afrofuturism continues an established practice of black scholars and artists seeking to celebrate forms, shapes, and textures linked to the African Diaspora. The creation of black counterpublic space through artistic means has been and continues to be central to black speculative practice.
Defining blackness through freedom lies at the core of Afrofuturism’s emphasis on speculation and liberation. Black speculative practice challenges colonial hierarchy rejecting oppression and alienation central to racism. Ytasha Womack, author of Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi Fantasy and Fantasy Culture, argues that Afrofuturism is a “way of seeing” that is “non-linear, fluid, and feminist” and that it offers a way for black people to “see ourselves in a better future.” Her emphasis on Afrofuturism as a way of seeing is echoed in Alondra Nelson’s introduction to the seminal SocialText issue on Afrofuturism (Summer 2002). Nelson’s analysis made clear that the promised technoculture revolution linked to the internet would not be free of considerations of race or racism. She argued that technoculture vision depended on leveraging otherness and in the face of this challenge people of color need to employ new analytical tools to see black cultural production beyond the confines offered by white notions of progress. In her explanation of Afrofuturism, she recognized that a “community of thinkers, artists, and writers” sought to define a black technoculture past to imagine possible futures. The centrality of visual culture to this process should not be shocking. Visual narratives can dismantle hierarchies of power that marginalized blackness through images that disrupt expectations, affirm identity, or imagine something new. Afrofuturism’s vision sums up a black counterpublic aesthetic that seeks to resist racist assumptions, promotes social justice, and offers the opportunity to visualize community.
Once again, inspired by Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities’ engagement with Afrofuturism, Third Stone seeks to engage, imagine, and catalog the dynamic scope of the black imaginary. We seek visual pieces that imagine black spaces anew. Famously, Eatonville and other black towns that were created after Reconstruction were described in the context of freedom, indeed, Eatonville is “The Town that Freedom Built.” As engines of creation, these spaces foster economic, social, and political visions that propelled future generations to a better future.
In celebration of the past and strike towards the future, we are asking for visual submission that engaged with the idea of speculative creation and black counterpublic spaces. We want people to imagine logos, designs, fonts, and graphic artifacts that will power the next century of freedom spaces and serve as guideposts for the black imaginary. What could these be? Can you create a new logo for a Historic Black Town or Settlement? Could you re-imagine the logo for HBCU? Could you create a logo for a new black educational space? What symbol of black freedom birthed now will endure for the next 100 years?
We want you to show us.
In order to encourage different modes of scholarly engagement for those interested in submitting to the journal, the editors of Third Stone have developed a number of options for the types of scholarly articles that we will publish, all tied around themes of the Black fantastic:
- Galactic Pieces are full-length journal articles of approximately 7000 to 10000 words in length, excluding footnotes and the References/Works Cited page. Articles submitted in this category are more akin to traditional articles. Expanding the debate regarding the theoretical, literary, and sociocultural contexts of Afrofuturist or African-futurist works, such articles will provide insight into both the microcosm (the “text” itself) and the macrocosm (the field) of the Black fantastic.
- Planetary Pieces are shorter articles of approximately 5000 to 6000 words in length, excluding any footnotes and the Works Cited page. While galactic pieces tend to offer comparative review of multiple literary or popular cultural “texts,” articles submitted in this category will often offer (but are not limited to) intensive review of a single work or artist, again applying theoretical frameworks to the examination of the primary works.
- Lunar Pieces are the shortest articles to be published in Third Stone at approximately 3000 to 4000 words in length, not including footnotes and the Works Cited page. Articles submitted in this category are akin to notes often with an emphasis on providing an extension, update, and/or response to previous research. They can also examine substantive yet provocative issues in the field. These works will thus populate the “Continuing the Conversation” portion of the journal.
- Cometary Pieces, or reprints, have a 5000-word maximum, not including an introduction article of approximately 2500 words in length, excluding any footnotes and the Works Cited page. Work submitted in this category should be pieces that embody the themes/goals of Afrofuturism and the Black fantastic and that need renewed attention in the modern world. If these works are not in the public domain, authors are responsible for securing permissions themselves.
Note that Third Stone Journal does not have one set citation style; contributors are encouraged to use the style with which they are most comfortable as long as they do so consistently throughout the piece. Articles must be accompanied by an abstract approximately 250 words in length that will be published as part of the article should it be accepted.
In addition to accepting traditional articles, Third Stone is particularly interested in multimodal as well as multimedia submissions that will enable us to serve as a hub for Black digital humanities as we explore how art can potentially liberate peoples of color from oppressive climates and cultures across time and space. Contributors might consider addressing their topic through sonic pieces, videos, and more.
In addition to the critical examination of literature and popular culture, Third Stone highly values creative pieces that participate in the work of Afrofuturism, African-futurism, and the Black fantastic. This may include visual art, music, creative writing, and more–innovative submissions that break boundaries and constraints, as is consistent with our mission:
- Long Films: One piece of no more than 45 minutes maximum
- Short Films: One to two pieces of no more than 15 minutes maximum
- Music: One to three pieces
- Poetry: Three to six pieces accompanied by a video or audio file recording of each work
- Long Prose (Non-Fiction or Fiction): One piece of no more than 6000 words
- Short Prose (Non-Fiction or Fiction): Two to three pieces of no more than 1500 words each
- Visual Art: One to three pieces with 300 dpi resolution saved with no compression
For creative submissions, please provide an accompanying artist statement in one of the following forms: a written narrative (approximately 500 to 1000 words, not including footnotes and a Works Cited page) or a video or audio narrative (no longer than eight to ten minutes in length). The artist statement will be published as a supporting document. Authors must provide a transcript of that document.
Third Stone is building a comprehensive annotated bibliography of source material on the Black fantastic, including traditional print sources (books, magazines, journal articles, newspapers, and reviews) and digital media (audio, video, film, apps, and websites). Entries should be approximately 750 to 1000 words in length, featuring a brief summary of the source, an analysis of its significant concepts and themes, a clear explanation of the Afrofuturist elements within the work, and a brief reflection where appropriate on intersections with other source material with which the author is familiar.
Other Submission Specifications
Multimedia pieces, whether scholarly or creative in nature, should be submitted in one of the following formats:
- Flash/HTML5 Audio MP4a, mp3,
- Flash/HTML Video (flv, mp4, RTMP)
- QuickTime Audio (aac, aif, mid, midi, mov,wav)
- QuickTime Video (3g2, 3gp, mov, mpg, mpeg)
- RealAudio (ra, ram)
- RealVideo (ram, smi, smil)
- SWF format (swf)
- Windows Media Audio (wma)
- Windows Media Video (avi, wmv)
- WMV, AVI, MOV, MPEG, GIF
- Other rich media
All submissions, including bibliographic annotations, will undergo a peer-review process. Submission of a manuscript implies that it contains original, unpublished materials and that it is not under consideration elsewhere. The editors of Third Stone expect authors who submit to the journal to please refrain from submitting the work to other venues until we have had an opportunity to complete our review process.
For inquiries, please contact the editorial staff of Third Stone Journal at email@example.com. Note that all work should be submitted via the submission portal at https://scholarworks.rit.edu/thirdstone/.