Professor of American Studies
School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Rayvon Fouché's scholarship on invention and innovation explores the multiple intersections and relationships between cultural representation, racial identification, and technoscientific design
Science & Technology Studies
Science & Technology Studies
Humanities (History & Philosophy of Science)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"THE NEW TECHNOLOGY IS BLACK": AFRONAUTS, AFROFUTURENEERING, AND THE INTIMACIES OF SPORTING AUTHENTICITY
In 1969, Ishmael Reed, in an interview in a small literary newspaper, stated "The new technology is black." This brief statement is the basis for my research examining the ways late civil rights movement intellectual theorized a black technoscientific future and how this afrofutureneering informs the ways representations of black athletic bodies are reconfigured in contemporary society. This work aims to use the concept of intimacy to understand the overlapping relationships between technoscientific futureneering, historical amnesias of race/racism, the use/consumption of black images/bodies, and cultural imaginaries of sporting authenticity.
LIMITED EDITION: SNEAKERS AND THE COMMODIFICATION OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH
This project traces the consumption of sneakers to explicate the meaning, value, and importance of these material artifacts in the formation, appropriation, and exchange of black youth culture, technoscientific design, and material artifacts. In specific, the creation of limited edition Black History Month models highlights the post-Civil Right Era reduction of blackness into a malleable and commodifiable cultural form. Black History Month limited editions can be seen as embodying a reductionist form of blackness. This false sense of cultural connectivity and identity is expressed through commodity consumption. This sense of false identity can create violent and even fatal situations, in which killing for a limited pair of sneakers is normalized.
DRIVING IN STYLE: FASHION, AUTOMOBILES, AND OIL EMBARGOES
The oil embargoes of the early 1970s and increased competition from Japan forced American automobile manufacturers to rethink their product lines. Moving away from large, heavy, high performance, and opulent cars as the center pieces of brand strategy demanded that American manufacturers reconsider how to sell cars that did not fulfill historical consumer desires. This project will study the (re)emergence of "couture cars," or cross-branded and collaboratively-designed limited edition automobiles. American automobile manufacturers leveraged the name recognition of fashion houses and brands (Givenchy, Gucci, Levi's, Versace) to make certain versions of their cars more attractive to consumers in challenging economic environments. Though short lived, these large-scale cross-branding efforts would lay an important foundation for future technoscientific/fashion collaborations.
MACHINES IN THE GAME: THE MATERIAL CULTURE OF SPORTING AUTHENTICITY
This project explores the ways innovation with old and new materials impact the shape of sport. In specific, I am interested in why certain seemingly "old" materials like leather, wood, and steel are able to maintain relevance in sporting worlds driven to extract every ounce of technoscientific performance. I am also interested in the ways technologies created for non-sporting uses like carbon fibers, polycarbonate plastics, and spandex, have become central artifacts of certain sporting worlds. This project will investigate the ways inventors, designers, and engineers have transformed seemingly mundane materials into innovative sporting equipment, that in certain cases has transformed the way people play sport, but also pushed sports to question their commitments to their origins.