Roundtable: Counter-memory, Critical Histories and Speculative Futures

Speaker(s): Cassandra L. Jones and Safiyah Cheatam

A Panel with Cassandra L. Jones and Safiyah Cheatam, moderated by Azsaneé Truss

This roundtable will be a conversation between scholars/scholar-artists who think deeply about —and create works which embody— the relationships between memory and the speculative, art and literature and world-making, and Afrofuturism and liberation. We will discuss how histories “from below” and counter-hegemonic narratives of the past help us to imagine more equitable futures.

About the Speakers

Safiyah Cheatam is a visual artist, researcher, storyteller, arts educator and administrator based in Baltimore, MD. She focuses on material culture and social phenomena involving Black Muslims in the United States, and the role of Afrofuturism in Black folks’ daily lives through which she explores the nuances of duality existing within Black and Muslim people. Safiyah holds an MFA in Intermedia & Digital Arts from UMBC and currently serves as a Trustee of the Awesome Foundation in Baltimore, on the Islamic Art Advisory Committee at the Walters Art Museum, and is Program Coordinator for Maryland Citizens for the Arts.

Cassandra L. Jones is an assistant professor of Africana Studies and an affiliate faculty member in Film and Media Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Cincinnati. Her research focuses on the intersection of race, gender, speculative fiction and technology. Her manuscript Memory and Liberation in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction is under advance contract with Ohio State University Press for the New Suns: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Speculative series. The book explores memory and decolonization found in tropes of alien invasion, time travel, and rootwork in the speculative fiction of authors such as Octavia E. Butler, Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson, and Nnedi Okorafor. In addition to her publications, which have appeared in Frontiers, Women’s Studies, and the College Language Association Journal, she contributed to the BBC Radio audio documentary Afterwords: Octavia E. Butler.

Azsaneé Truss studies critical media production and Black radical imagination. Her work seeks to understand the ways in which radical imagination acts as the driving force behind various forms of activism, and how  media can portray critical understandings of our present as a basis for imagining and building more equitable futures.

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