Ancestral Heart Beats – Hip Hop’s Sonic Fictions from Black Atlantis

This doctoral thesis explores the MythSciences of Hip Hop within a transnational and transhistorical framework, building on Sun Ra’s conceptual tool of MythScience that is a complete reconciliation of rational science and technology with irrational mythology and the impossible. The focus lies on both African contexts (particularly South Africa) and its diaspora, arguing that to limit the perspective on one particular regional context misses the distinct fluidity of these Afrofuturist endeavors. Rather, they need to be considered as echoing back and forth – in Gilroy’s terms – crisscrossing the Black Atlantic. Therefore, this dissertation project will conceive of the middle passage’s waterways as symbolically significant to explore the sonic fictions of hip-hop emanating from Black Atlantis. Treating the song lyrics as poetic texts in the analysis, a key interest lies on aquatic metaphors and the exploration of otherworlds with a distinct emphasis on the gothic. These aspects are all interlinked with identity politics, the negotiation of space and place, and the exploration of other possibilities and alternate realities of decolonized futurity. The exploration Afrofuturism’s sonic fictions within the broader field of Black speculative fiction is particularly relevant, as Afrofuturism gradually shifts form a concept developed during the early 1990’s from scholars focusing particularly on the African-American context towards an adaptation and transformation from the African continent itself, which Reynaldo Anderson termed Afrofuturism 3.0.

Supervisor: Dr. Lorena Rizzo 

Co-Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Philipp Schweighauser

Bio

Pius Jonas Vögele earned his BA in history and English in 2017 and consecutively continued his studies at the University of Basel, where he graduated in Anglophone literary and cultural studies in 2020. He wrote his master’s thesis on the South African hip-hop artist Yugen Blakrok using Afrofuturism as a theoretic lens. Between 2018 and 2020, Pius Jonas Vögele was student assistant at the Centre for African Studies Basel (ZASB). He received a start-up grant from the Department of Social Sciences (G3S) to embark on his dissertation on Hip Hop and Afrofuturism. Being actively involved in various elements of the Hip Hop culture himself since many years, his research aims to bridge the academic world with arts and activism. 

Publications

Vögele, P.J. (2020). The cosmic submarine: Yugen Blakrok’s afrofuturistic sonic fictions. Critical Studies in Media Communication 37(4). Special Issue: Afrofuturism’s Transcultural Trajectories. Link to article

Vögele, P.J. (2020). The cosmic submarine: Yugen Blakrok’s afrofuturistic sonic fictions. Critical Studies in Media Communication 37(4), 350-363. Special Issue: Afrofuturism’s Transcultural Trajectories. Link to article

Vögele, P.J., Giallombardo, G. & Lüthi, C. (2020). South African Underground Comix / Südafrikanische Untergrund Comix. In Lüthy, C., Ulrich, R. & Uribe, A. (Eds.) Kaboom! Of Stereotypes and Superheroes – African Comics and Comics on Africa / Von Stereotypen und Superhelden – Afrikanische Comics und Comics zu Afrika. Basler Afrika Bibliographien.

Presentations

“Imaginations are Stargates: Yugen Blakrok’s Afrofuturistic Sonic Fictions in ‘Opps’ and ‘Carbon Form’.” − Symposium 'Science Fiction Beyond the West: Futurity in African and Asian Contexts.' SOAS London, July 12, 2019.

“Stargates to Parallel Universes: Yugen Blakrok's Afrofuturistic Sonic Fictions” − 7th Biennial Afroeuropeans Conference ‘Black In/Visibilities Contested.’ ISCTE – IUL Lissabon, July 4–6, 2019.

“Stargates to Parallel Universes: Yugen Blakrok’s Afrofuturistic Sonic Fictions” − Annual Trinational EUCOR English Master and PhD Conference, UHA Mulhouse, April 5–6, 2019.

Further Links

Portrait Pius Vögele

Pius J. Vögele 
Graduate School of Social Sciences G3S  
Petersgraben 52 
4051 Basel
pius.voegele@unibas.ch