Imagine Otherwise: Mark Villegas on Collaborative Abundance in Hip-Hop Cultures

Jul 22, 2021 | Podcast

Much about academia trains us to view the world through a scarcity mindset. We are taught to compete from pretty much the minute we enter the academy—we compete for department funding, for tenure track lines, for mentors, for publishing opportunities.

In this framework, there is a limited pie of money, resources, or notoriety and it is up to each individual to scramble for their small slice.

But more and more scholars, editors, and publishers are rejecting scarcity as the value we want to organize our intellectual and professional lives and are instead building models for collective thought and action organized around abundance.

Centering abundance in the ways we show up in our scholarly and professional endeavors can shift what we think is possible.

For instance, what would an abundant approach to writing feel like as a daily practice? How might viewing our research projects as emerging from collective brilliance transform our models for academic publishing? And how would our classrooms shift if we understood students as fellow theorists of our shared worlds?

In episode 137 of Imagine Otherwise, I interview filmmaker and hip-hop scholar Mark Villegas, who has built his career foregrounding the power of collective abundance. Highlighting the strength, inspiration, and generosity that emerges from collaboration, Mark’s endeavors illustrate the transformations that take place when diverse ideas, populations, and cultural traditions are brought together.

In our conversation, Mark and I chat about why multiracial, transnational, and cross-generational hip-hop cultures have been such a vibrant model of political and artistic abundance. Mark explains how his new book Manifest Technique traces these genealogies as well as how Filipino American cultural producers use hip-hop to theorize belonging and resist colonial legacies.

We also talk about the new communication strategies and gathering practices that Brown and Black hip-hop communities have developed during the COVID-19 and discuss how they can serve as models for life beyond the pandemic. Finally, we close out the episode with Mark’s vision for an abundant relationality, one that can shape new collaborative futures.

Mark Villegas wearing a tweed hat and purple sweater. Quote reads: I want a world full of joy, imagination, and genuine relationality. And we see that from hip-hop over the past 50 years of its existence. Hip-hop has thrived on interracial collaborations and contributions. I would like to see more of that organic type of community formation.
Mark Villegas wearing a tweed hat and purple sweater. Quote reads: My research methodology is mixed. My inspiration comes from the communities I've been involved with and the collaborations I've made over the years. I've been involved with film festivals, Filipino American cultural festivals, the poetry scene—all these different spaces I've been a part of and communities I've built with have shaped my understanding of this universe.

Mark Villegas

Mark R. Villegas is an assistant professor of American studies at Franklin & Marshall College as well as a filmmaker whose research and creative work are rooted in community engagement and collaboration.

His first book, Manifest Technique: Hip Hop, Empire, and Visionary Filipino American Culture (University of Illinois Press, 2021), examines Filipino Americans’ decades-long commitment to crafting, worldmaking, and collaborating in hip-hop culture.

Mark’s current project, Geek Hop: Study, Science, and Orientalism in Hip Hop Culture, examines hip-hop’s lesser-known core aesthetic: the “geeky” elements reflected in comic book culture, martial arts, anime, and science fiction.

Related Posts