Death's Futurity: The Visual Life of Black Power

Regular price $ 25.95

by Sampada Aranke

Duke University Press

2/24/2023, paperback

SKU: 9781478019305


In Death's Futurity Sampada Aranke examines the importance of representations of death to Black liberation. Aranke analyzes posters, photographs, journalism, and films that focus on the murders of Black Panther Party members Lil' Bobby Hutton, Fred Hampton, and George Jackson to construct a visual history of the 1960s and 1970s Black Power era.

She shows how Black radicals used these murders to engage in political action that imagined Black futurity from the position of death. Photographs of Hutton that appeared on flyers and posters called attention to the condition of his death while the 1971 documentary The Murder of Fred Hampton enabled the consideration of Hampton's afterlife through visual meditations on his murder. Printmaking and political posters surrounding Jackson's murder marked the transition from Black Power to the prison abolition movement in ways that highlighted the relationship between surveillance, policing, incarceration, and anti-Black violence.

By foregrounding the photographed, collaged, filmed, and drawn Black body, Aranke demonstrates that corporeality and corpses are crucial to the efforts to shape visions of a Black future free from white supremacy.


"Sampada Aranke's writing represents what is most exciting about contemporary cultural inquiry situated at the intersection of Black studies and art-critical praxis. In this provocative and bracing book she enriches our political and philosophical understanding of the Panthers' ambitions and takes up the challenge laid down by Black radical thinkers to consider forms of death as revolutionary acts, all while reframing our assumptions about the work of writers who have become foundational to the project of critical theory in the United States. This rich and highly compelling contribution to Black studies will be of immense interest to students and scholars across the humanities." -- Huey Copeland, author of Bound to Appear: Art, Slavery, and the Site of Blackness in Multicultural America

"Presenting a significant intercession in the field of visual culture as well as the imaging of 1960s and 1970s radicalism and the Black Panther Party, Sampada Aranke has written a stunning book that could not be more timely." -- Kellie Jones, author of South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s

About the Author:

Sampada Aranke is Assistant Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.