Jayna Brown

Jayna Brown is associate professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Riverside. She is the author of Babylon Girls: Black Women Performers and the Shaping of the Modern (Duke University Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles on race, gender, global sound and post-coloniality. She is also the co-editor of special issues of Social Text and Women and Performance. Her current projects focus on race, technology, and utopias in speculative fiction and global pop music and black women and postpunk music in Britain.



"After the End of the World: Afro Diasporan Feminism and Alternative Dimensions of Sound"

Music is the language for African diasporan philosophical meditations on what it has meant to survive post apocalyptic dystopias of oppression, dislocation and alienation. It is the space for conceptualizations of exodus, for reconceptualizations of what it means to be human, for reclamations of life itself. It is the dimension for African diasporan imaginings of alternative worlds and modes of being.

From Sun Ra to George Clinton, African diasporan speculative music often retains a masculinist normativity. The mothership is manned, so to speak. But it is the voice of June Tyson, who sang with the jazz musician Sun Ra, who utters the key afrofuturist clarion call, “It’s after the end of the world, don’t you know that yet?” Her voice is the power carrying us to other-wordly dimensions of being, yet very little is written about her besides as an extension of Sun Ra’s vision. Many black women musicians, from Nona Hendryx, Missy Elliott to Janelle Monae have indeed found space to be the place, and I argue here for the recognition and theorization of such space from an African diasporan feminist perspective.