“Alien Souls on a Prison Planet: Janelle Monáe and the Afrofuturist Plato”
Comments by David Miller, PhD candidate, Political Science
Who do “the Classics” belong to? If white nationalists now see themselves as heirs to “This is Sparta!” and as defenders of “Western Civilization,” is it time to blow up the discipline? While there is reason for concern, I follow postcolonial scholars who instead suggest that we hack the canon rather than chuck it. My own contribution to this effort is to read Plato through the Afrofuturist music of Janelle Monáe. I look to Plato’s tale of humans as alien prisoners on Earth (Timaeus), in order to highlight the linkages between his vision and Monáe’s Metropolis Suite (which narrates the revolution of an enslaved cyborg, Cindi Mayweather). Through Mayweather’s posthuman challenge to her carceral society, Monáe reveals a revolutionary side to Plato’s seemingly apolitical Timaeus that provides us with an essential context for understanding Plato.
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