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Accepted Paper:

Claiming Space for the Alkebulan-Africana Diasporan Avatar and creating the Astro Virtual Equalitarian Nation (AVEN)  
Lonny Avi Brooks (California State University, East Bay) Ahmed Best (AfroRithm Futures Group)

Paper short abstract:

How do we claim Black space in Virtual Reality (VR), in the metaverse? By focusing our attention on the power of the avatar, the graphical representation of a user’s character persona in VR and its interaction within intentional communities created in VR: with affordances & powers for liberation.

Paper long abstract:

Claiming Space for the Alkebulan-Africana Diasporan Avatar and creating the Astro Virtual Equalitarian Nation (AVEN)

How do we claim Black space in Virtual Reality (VR), in the metaverse? By focusing our attention on the power of the avatar, the graphical representation of a user’s character persona in VR and its interaction within intentional communities created in VR, our aspiration embodies the avatar with affordances or powers for liberation that bring, extend them back into the analog world. Claiming space in virtual settings and VR has historically already encountered one of its most racist moments against a Black actor developing the most ubiquitous Avatar personas of all time: Jar Jar Binks. The actor Ahmed Best playing Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars was one of the first virtual iconically Black alien avatars that provided the CGI (computer generated imagery) imprint for all other virtual characters on screen to follow. Literally, the DNA of a Black actor and their intergalactic persona provided the technological pathway for precursors for virtual character development in film and arguably in VR.

Jar Jar represents an Afrofuturetope. Afrofuturetopes are inspired by Mikhail Baktin’s ideas of chronotopes, spaces of cultural stories, practices we trace over space and time like the radioactive isotopes used in radiometric dating to determine the age of fossils, ancient artifacts. Inspired by Richard Iton’s notion of the “Black Fantastic” (2008), critical social spaces Black cultures create, Afrofuturetopes reflect the signals/circulation of future visions of ancestral intelligence, marginalized voices and the rediscovery of lost stories.

Panel P27b
Life Itself. Anthropology and Anticipation.
  Session 1 Tuesday 7 June, 2022, -