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Sun Ra's ChicagoAfrofuturism and the City$
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William Sites

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226732077

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226732244.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 27 May 2022

Urban Routes, Utopian Pathways

Urban Routes, Utopian Pathways

(p.1) Urban Routes, Utopian Pathways
(p.iii) Sun Ra’s Chicago

William Sites

University of Chicago Press

This introduction to Sun Ra’s Chicago provides an overview of the key themes of the book. In recent decades, the once-obscure bandleader and outer-space traveler Sun Ra has become much better recognized, not only as a jazz innovator but as a foundational figure in the cultural development of Afrofuturism. Yet how did Sun Ra’s own music and cosmology emerge? And why did they flourish in 1950s Chicago? Sun Ra’s Chicago addresses these questions by tracing the musician’s early life and career, first in Birmingham, Alabama (1914-1946) and then in Chicago (1946-1961), in order to examine the influence of cities on his creative imagination. Drawing on insights from African American studies, urban geography, musicology and religious studies, the book takes an urban historical approach to Sun Ra’s passages through his early cities, seeking to provide fresh insights not only into his music and philosophy but also into the relation between everyday urban experience and the development of Afrofuturism as a cultural ideal.

Keywords:   Sun Ra, Chicago, Birmingham, Alabama, African American studies, religious studies, urban geography, musicology, urban history, Afrofuturism

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