Mumbo Jumbo

Literary criticism

Scholars such as Alondra Nelson have considered Reed's text as an Afrofuturist text because of the synchronization of voodoo tropes and technology which contributes to its unique form. "Reed's synchronous model defies the progressive linearity of much recent technocultural criticism" (Nelson 8).[4] The non-linear narration, which is cinematic, plays on Afrofuturism's relationship between technology, black magic, and race—to whit: Also, Nelson deals with Reed's use of technology and its functionality in the text. The "…technologies from the setting's future and the author's present inhabit a story situated in the past," in Mumbo Jumbo allows for the emergence of African diasporic technologies in the text.[5] This "anachronistic" nature of Mumbo Jumbo troubles widely accepted conceptualizations of technology, especially in thinking about "when" cultural innovations were created and by "whom."

James A. Snead sees the novel's structure as engaged of the African-American musical and rhetorical trope of "the cut", an interruption that disrupts the linear temporality of the work, looping back to an earlier textual moment.[6] Neil Schmitz's investigates the Reed's experimentation with Neo Hoodoo where the writer does not use it as a literary form but as a "characteristic stance, a mythological provenace, a behavior, a complex, of attitudes, the retrieval of an idiom..." (Schmitz 127).[7] Analyzing Mumbo Jumbo as a "signifying pastiche of Afro-American narrative tradition"[8] Henry Louis Gates posits that Reed's novel opens up a narrative space in which the intricate relationship between black and Western literary forms and conventions are critiqued.[8] Pushing Gates' notion of "signifying pastiche" into the realm of the Afrofuturism, Alondra Nelson holds that Mumbo Jumbo imagines a version of African Diaspora that refuses to detach from tradition as it navigates modernity. For instance, PaPa LaBas make sense of the nuances of black modernity through his use of Haitian "Hoodoo" practices. As such, Reed mobilizes a "future-primitive perspective",[9] which animates the past through the future.


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