»Events»Give the Black Girl the Remote: Decolonising and Depatriarchalising Technology in Black Panther
Give the Black Girl the Remote: Decolonising and Depatriarchalising Technology in Black Panther
In Ryan Coogler’s 2018 film, Black Panther, the small African kingdom of Wakanda is situated on a huge vein of vibranium, the strongest and most versatile (fictional) material in the universe. Vibranium is the source of the Wakandans’ technological enhancements, including a force-field around their high-tech capital city that makes it appear from the outside that the kingdom is impoverished and technologically primitive. Marvel’s and Coogler’s acts of giving vibranium to the Wakandans represents a powerful act of decolonising technology, which – in colonial logic – is the sole preserve of white male scientists. The most advanced technology is now in the hands of Wakanda, where the technological genius is not the hypermasculine T’challa, but his sister Shuri, disparaged by traditionalists in Wakanda as “a child”. Despite her irreverent and iconoclastic approach to tradition, sixteen-year-old Shuri is, according to the film’s producer Nate Moore, “the smartest person in the world, smarter than Tony Stark [Iron Man]”. The film’s portrayal of Shuri – a black girl nerd who is manifestly her brother’s equal in the arts of war and technology – points to how far popular media has come in decolonising and depatriarchalising control of resources in the twenty-first century.