ABSTRACT

This article traces scenes of pursuit, collaboration, and evasion in Whitehead's 2016 Underground Railroad to show how the novel prioritizes motion to encourage a rethinking of racial utopia. Neither an imposed experiment of white philanthropy nor an Afrofuturist “elsewhere,” Whitehead's vision presents utopia as a condition of necessary and perpetual movement that inspires structural revolution and change. The article uses the novel's example of Valentine Farm, a fictional 1850s black settlement in Indiana where protagonist Cora lands after her rescue from a fugitive slave catcher by Royal, a freeborn black radical and railroad agent. By drawing parallels to historical examples of black settlements during this era, the article highlights the importance of examining racial utopia from the lens of marronage and how the movements of those who live outside the boundaries of statehood are vital to the mutual development of both utopian thought and black radical consciousness.

You do not currently have access to this content.