Andrew W. Mellon Penn Faculty Fellow in the Humanities
2010—2011 Forum on Virtuality
Assistant Professor, English
“Downloadable Diasporas” considers how continental Africans’ use digital media to access popular music and other content, allowing them to engage with multiple black diasporas. I draw on Édouard Glissant metaphor of viruses as both endemic and external impulses in the unpredictable cultural flows among a range of global black communities. The recognition of this multi-directional improvisatory dynamic highlights the imagined, which is to say virtual, nature of the relation between black diasporans and Africa. However, contemporary means of participating in this dynamic are increasingly digital, relying on virtual flows of information that appear to privilege globalization as consumerism over trans-national political solidarity. I am particularly interested in how such instances of virtuality shape the literature, films and hypertexts of pan-Africanism’s afterlives.