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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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(p.215) Lineages/Legacies
Sun Ra's Chicago

William Sites

University of Chicago Press

By 2014—the centenary of a birth he had often denied—Sun Ra’s musical and cultural significance was being celebrated in cities throughout the world. Amid all this attention it was tempting to imagine Sun Ra as ethereal, a free-floating cultural phenomenon, abstract and self-defining. This concluding chapter of Sun Ra’s Chicago reasserts the argument that his own history, and that of his earliest cities, were central to the development of his music and his mythology. Like Martin Delany and W.E.B. Du Bois, Sun Ra’s dreams took inspiration from his urban surroundings, which also connected him—through the hidden and not-so-hidden cultural resources around him—to past histories and visions of the future, enlarging his utopian sensibilities as well as his music. His cultural legacy, in turn, points up the urban foundations of contemporary Afrofuturism, with utopian space given shape by particular cities while also being redefined by the historical imaginations of those who give it meaning.

Keywords:   Sun Ra, Chicago, space, urban, historical imagination, Afrofuturism, utopian, music

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