Louis Chude-Sokei – At the Borders of Flesh: A Secret History of Race and Technology


Event Date: 13 October 2016

Room B34
Birkbeck Main Building
Birkbeck, University of London
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HX

The Birkbeck Institute for Social Research  presents:

At the Borders of Flesh: A Secret History of Race and Technology

Speaker: Louis Chude-Sokei (University of Washington)

Chair: Karen Wells (Birkbeck, University of London)

In this talk, based on his new book The Sound of Culture, Louis Chude-Sokei explores the histories of race and technology in a world made by slavery, colonialism, and industrialization. Beginning in the late nineteenth century and moving through to the twenty-first, he argues for the dependent nature of those histories, showing how the emergence of race as a concept in Western culture was inextricably linked to the growth of technology. Using a global range of sources – American, British, and Caribbean literature and black musics such as jazz and dub reggae – he shows how race and technology and particularly how blacks and machines have been linked from robotics to artificial intelligence. In fact, science fiction itself, as he shows, has roots in racial anxieties and he traces those anxieties across two centuries and a range of writers, thinkers and musical artists.

Louis Chude-Sokei is a writer and scholar currently teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle. His work includes the award winning The Last Darky (2006), the recently published The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (2015) and the forthcoming books, Dr. Satan’s Echo Chamber: Essays in Dub and An Immigrant Alphabet, a memoir.  He is also the Editor-In-Chief of the newly revamped The Black Scholar, one of the oldest and most renowned journals of black thought in the United States.






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