Collaborative Writing No. 1
Author: Ra’anaa Brown
Editor(s): Koby Rogers Hall, Karina Roman, Nicholas Raffoul
I am excited and honoured to be compiling the initial thoughts of Dr. Alice Ming Wai Jim’s Afrofuturism-BLM Research Assistants. Before I get into synthesizing any accomplishments, take aways or exciting aspects to date, on behalf of our team I’d first like to recognize that Concordia University is located in Tiohtiá:ke, later colonized as Montreal. This land on which we learn, work and live is the unceded territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation. While the nature of this work centralizes the lived experience and work of Black individuals, we need to first acknowledge the importance of Black and Indigenous solidarity. In the well spoken words of Black Lives Matter Canada:
As a Black artist, activist and scholar I am delighted to have the opportunity to centralize an area of my research on Afrofuturism and Black Lives Matter within a Canadian context. Although I was born and raised in Brampton, ON, I’ve spent most of my adult life in N’Swakamok (colonized as Sudbury) where I completed both my undergraduate and master’s degrees in architecture. Upon the completion of my racialized thesis, amidst the 2020 resurgence of the BLM movement, I became involved locally and helped co-found my local chapter of which I am now the President/Chair. I have since moved to Tiohtiá:ke to pursue my Doctorate of Philosophy in Art History, focusing on my passion for the intersection of Black art and activism.
As a group of BIPOC individuals and white allies, it is necessary for our research to recognize on whose land we are situated. Indigenous-futurisms and Afrofuturism are practices completely of their own, and yet they also make way for one another. They exist in a beautiful symbiosis and encourage one another to flourish and take on wholly new forms. As uninvited guests on Turtle Island we respect the connections with the past, present and future(s) in our ongoing relationships with Indigenous, POC and other marginalized populations in our community.
This week marks the second week of our newfound Afrofuturism-BLM research group under the supervision of Dr. Jim. While we have great intentions and big plans for this group, we are by no means the first (and intend to not be the last) at Concordia University to centralize research around Black communities. In fact, our work is building off of Dr. Jim’s Afrofuturisms Research Collective (ARC), co-founded by herself, Ojo Agi, Anastasia Erickson, Olivia McGilchrist and Ashley Raghubir. To their powerhouse team we say thank you and we look forward to future collaborations and knowledge sharing opportunities.
Throughout the past 14 days, give or take, we have embarked on an exciting journey towards becoming Afrofuturists. While a lot of the work thus far has consisted of administrative tasks, we know that the best has yet to come. Not only do we have the opportunity to expand our understanding of the subject matter, but our research truly has the potential to increase academic scholarship and awareness of Black Lives Matter and Afrofuturism within a Canadian context.
Although the academic context of this project is incredibly compelling, let’s switch gears and talk about the social and other exciting prospects participating in this research project has to offer. Dr. Jim is incredibly well connected and knows the Montreal arts scene quite well. As research assistants we have the inside scoop on exciting art shows, gallery exhibitions and who knows what else. Just this past weekend at Dr.Jim's request I attended the opening of Af-flux: Biennale Transnationale Noire. Located at Art Mûr gallery, this incredible series of physical exhibitions, conferences and performances is ongoing and opened to the community until December 11, 2021. It was at this opening that I also had the opportunity to connect with previous ARC member, Ojo Agi. The conversation we had was quite fruitful and I felt very fortunate to have made this connection.
In the weeks to come we will continue to gather background knowledge from the Montreal art scene, attend relevant training sessions and hone our research abilities. Through this exciting endeavour we will dive head first into the world of Afrofuturism and Black Lives Matter in Canada. Every day we will continue to expand our minds, build connections and take one step closer to uncovering the artistic implications of this unique and fruitful research opportunity.
Ra’anaa Brown, PhD Candidate, M.Arch