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Black PrometheusRace and Radicalism in the Age of Atlantic Slavery$
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Jared Hickman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190272586

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190272586.001.0001

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The Afro-Promethean “Science of the Stars”

The Afro-Promethean “Science of the Stars”

Toward a New Metahistory of African Survivals

Chapter:
(p.168) 4 The Afro-Promethean “Science of the Stars”
Source:
Black Prometheus
Author(s):

Jared Hickman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190272586.003.0005

Traditional African associations and an established interpretation of the Promethean theft of fire as an allegory of the historical origins of astronomy facilitated the emergence of a nineteenth-century consensus that modern astronomy was a legacy of a primordial African cultural achievement. This period conception of “African” culture invites us to analyze afresh two apposite discourses: representations of the famed African American astronomer, Benjamin Banneker, and reflections on and around the North Star in North American antislavery literature. This undertaking enables us, one, to trace a thinking of the “African” difference in global modernity as a Promethean rebelliousness against divine regimes that would withhold their power/knowledge from human beings; and, two, to develop a radically historicist approach to the question of African cultural “survivals” by carefully tracking in discourse-analytical terms an evolving notion of African provenance and reinterpreting pertinent cultural productions in light of contemporaneous meanings of Africanness.

Keywords:   Afrocentrism, African cultural survivals, North Star, race, slavery, Prometheus, astronomy, Benjamin Banneker, science

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