Home Campus: Tampa
Office: FAO 261
Dr. Alexander Ponomareff (he/him) is a scholar of postwar African American popular culture, media, literature, and art. His teaching and research interests include graffiti, comic books, film, and popular music, with an emphasis on sample-based hip hop. Dr. Ponomareff received his B.A. in History and Philosophy from New York University. He also holds an interdisciplinary M.A. from NYU in Humanities and Social Thought. He has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Prior to joining the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies at the University of South Florida as an Assistant Professor, he was the inaugural Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Studying Structures of Race at Roanoke College.
Ponomareff’s research centers on an assessment of Black technocultures and popular culture production. His research explores how technological innovations are shaped by the intertwining logics of white supremacy and racial capitalism. This is visible in many ways, including how technology is often depicted as central to a bright, sterile, white utopian futures, and how African Americans have historically been articulated as passive consumers of technology. By contrast, his work emphasizes black artists and cultural producers as purposeful technological experimenters, or techno rebels, who are frequently at the forefront of resisting what he has termed “the demand for clarity.” The demand for clarity is a significant aspect of the enduring legacies of the scholarly field cybernetics, and it is integral to the technocratic, utopian imaginary mentioned above. One brief example of these logics at work is the contrasting critical responses to black hip hop artists, whose artistic and technological innovation has often been described as the product of accident, instinct, or theft, and the critical responses to white twentieth century avant garde composers, who have frequently been labeled as geniuses, scientists, pioneers, and artists, for producing similar works using similar techniques and technological innovations. This project reframes the dominant historical narratives about the origins of hip hop as a cultural and aesthetic form by tracing hip hop artists’ practical and political investments in technological manipulation and innovation that are at central to the origins of two of the four foundational elements of hip hop culture.
“ForeWomen: Eunice Kathleen Waymon, Nina Simone, Talib Kweli, DJ Hi Tek, and the Politics of Self-Creation,” Journal of Popular Music Studies 31, no. 1 (March 2019). https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2019.311012.