Stolen Life, Stolen Time: Black Temporality, Speculation, and Racial Capitalism

Working on the B-side of time, this essay considers the way Afro-futurism often configures time as nonlinear and entangled. In doing so, it looks at contemporary apocalyptic forms of storytelling, Watchmen, Parasite, Black Mother, Exit West, and On Such a Full Sea. The way the timeline of racial capitalism is represented in each reveals how blackness affects narrative time and historical time. In addition to the stolen land (dispossession of Native sovereignty) and the stolen life (African enslavement) that inaugurated the Americas, stolen time is a critical axis of analysis. Speculative fiction holds the potential to undo the divisive power of speculation, in its rawest form, capitalism. Subverting colonial time, maroon time, or stolen time, accumulates at the edges of the plantation. Ultimately, marronage offers radical forms of waiting—slow and deliberate warfare—against the linear storytelling that erroneously tells us colonialism was inevitable.

Read the entire Research Article in the South Atlantic Quarterly 

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Professor Tao Leigh Goffe
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