Lines of Flight: Baseball as Afrofuturist Becoming in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Abstract: This paper deals with the depiction and metaphorical use of baseball and Blackness in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It argues that Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of Becoming can be applied to baseball, integrating Afrofuturist understandings of counterfutures as something that influences the transformative process of Becoming. Furthermore, this paper advocates that Becomings help to understand difference as not being based on identity but on time. This paper first elaborates on how Blackness does not fit into imaginations of linear progress that are evoked with the protagonist’s use of baseball as an analogy for linear time. Performing a closer examination of Blackness in DS9, this paper highlights how Black memory and future are dealt with in the show. The emphasis of experience is shifted away from a linear progression of time to an understanding of a grid of all possible outcomes of any event, such as a baseball game. Thereby, this paper adds a combination of two frameworks to understanding DS9, Afrofuturism and Becoming, emphasizing that the show allows them to work together, producing insights that invite further research.

In baseball, there are nine defense positions: “[P]itcher, catcher, first base, second base, third base, short stop, right field, left field, and center field” (Silliman 110). As Barbara A. Silliman argues, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “reflects” these nine positions in its “very title” (103). Deep Space Nine (henceforth also referred to as DS9) is a space station in the twenty-fourth century, surrounding the planet of Bajor and guarding a wormhole that connects distant parts of the galaxy with each other. Benjamin Sisko, a human from Earth, is the station’s captain and a baseball fanatic. Moreover, Benjamin Sisko’s character is African American, a novelty for a top commanding person in the Star Trek franchise. He outspokenly identifies with Black struggles throughout the show, even though Star Trek was initially about a future when humanity had left racism behind. Thus, an analysis of the metaphorical use of baseball in DS9 and how it works in connection to Blackness should prove very fruitful.

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