in theory | #7 Louis Chude-Sokei

Wednesday, 14 June 2023, 7.30 pm, diffrakt | centre for theoretical periphery

Conversation with
Louis Chude-Sokei | Morten Paul

Louis Chude-Sokei’s work traces the overt and covert lines of connection between the history of slavery and the emergence of science fiction, between Black philosophers and posthumanism, in ways that are unprecedented and provocative: whether in minstrelsy or science fiction, in information theory or artificial intelligence research, his essays unearth a technopolitical unconscious driven by racial anxieties. At the same time, they open up a space for a radical redefinition not only of reality but also of possibility, exploring the transformation of technology in processes of creolization or in the sounds of the Black diaspora and in Soundsystem Culture. In this conversation, Louis will outline how engagement with the thought of Caribbean writers such as Sylvia Wynter, Edouard Glissant, and Eric Walrond becomes a challenge to a thinking that demands unambiguous origins and clear demarcations, and what, in turn, can be gained from a precise tracing of the interactions, echoes, and deviations that haunt the history of the categories of race and technology.

In addition to his numerous scholarly and essayistic writings, Louis Chude-Sokei has published, in 2021, a memoir in which he describes his journey as a young boy from the short-lived African nation of Biafra to Jamaica to the rough streets of Los Angeles. But all of his writing and interventions make clear that it is the fact of migration that gave rise to his interest in technology and its interactions with race in the first place. Thus, we want to consider how the view of history and, by extension, of the future changes when the starting point for that view is the (involuntary and voluntary) movements of African people over the last four centuries as well as those of a particular Black person along the diverse historical, imaginary, and intellectual landscape called the diaspora.

Louis Chude-Sokei is professor of English and director of the African American Studies Program at Boston University. He is the editor-in-chief of The Black Scholar, one of the oldest journals of Black Studies in the United States. In addition to his academic work, he regularly collaborates with cultural initiatives and artists such as Mouse on Mars – in this role he is a frequent guest at German art institutions such as the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Technologie und Race. Essays der Migration, his first book in German, translated by Utku Mogultay, will be published by August Verlag on 26 May 2023.

A week before this event, on 7 June 2023, Louis will be speaking and performing at Akademie der Künste: History is Listening. Re-Sonifying Nuremberg.


Black Ark Studios, by Adrian Boot
Louis Chude-Sokei by Cydney Scott