‚Future of Africa – visions of change’ is the Bayreuth Academy’s first significant project. The starting point of the project is the observation that concepts and representations of ‘future’ outside of Europe often appear to be especially innovative and dynamic, which means they have to deal with especial challenges. This is especially relevant for Africa and its diasporas.
The exploration and discussion of future perspectives in Africa and amongst its diasporas is at the heart of the project. Up until now less notice has been taken of these perspectives than of the diverse range of agendas projected time and again onto the continent from outside. However, the global connections and implications of future perspectives developed in African societies and diasporas should also always be taken into consideration.
The exploration of these concepts of future invite stimulating, transcontinental observations. Comparative perspectives are incorporated, existing perspectives are taken into account. Regional research on Africa and other regions offers a significant contribution to systematic debates about ‘future’ worldwide.
Work on this project takes place on two levels. Firstly, five subprojects specialising in different areas are looking into various empirical aspects of the following themes: historical perspectives align with the change in future perspectives in Africa and amongst its diasporas in the context of world history in the 19th and 20th centuries (subproject 1); visions of time and the future of nature in Africa are being research using ecological and social models, which are included in nature protection strategies or in relation to climate change, for example (subproject 2); ethnological and sociological approaches are looking at future perspectives amongst the middle classes as an expression of their social rise in Africa (subproject 3); cross-genre forms of literary and artistic representations of future generated by African diasporas and disseminated across the internet are understood in the context of ‘Afrofuturism’ (subproject 4). Finally, iconographies of African revolutions are being investigated and anthologised (subproject 5).
The following scheme offers an overview on how these different modules are connected and together constitute the project "Future Africa" of the Academy as such:
The second part of the project work is comprised of six working groups, who each convene for one semester between the summer semester 2013 and the winter semester 2015-16. With the participation of selected guest fellows the groups discuss interdisciplinary and interregional aspects of the theme ‘Future Africa’. The working groups systematically compare empirical research results, stimulate theoretical and conceptual debates and produce methodological reflections. The global and social diversity, the temporal structure and the model character of concepts of future arise during the debates, as do the presence and representation of knowledge about and for the future.