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Call for Papers “Afr(io)futurism: Debates, Contestations, Interventions” Hide

Call for Papers

Afr(io)futurism: Debates, Contestations, Interventions

February 18-19, 2022, University of Bayreuth

Convenors: Dr. Britta Frede, Dr. des. Xin Li, Dr. Mario Faust-Scalisi, Dr. Gilbert Ndi Shang

What might be an African’s futures? This question is part and parcel of both Afrofuturist and Africanfuturist movements. They focus on intersections of culture, philosophy, aesthetics and history in the imagination of possible futures. While Afrofuturism is mainly concerned with afro-cultural expressions in the African diaspora (especially in the United States), Africanfuturism is an affirmation of the inadequacy of Afrofuturism in addressing the continent, the peoples who live it and in accounting for the different historical realities that shape continental Africa’s contribution to the futurist imaginary.

What both movements have in common is that they imaginatively construct interrelated futures with deep historical and spiritual roots shaped by the trajectories of human experiences in Africa and among its diasporas. Although distinct in emphases, Africanfuturism and Afrofuturism are interconnected strains of thought primarily aided by their use of multimedia and by their commitment to interdisciplinary interventions in the making and theorizing of futures. In order to capture both the divergence and convergence of these two streams of futuristic consciousness and sensibilities, we adopt the term Afr(io)futurism as a conceptual bridge to investigate the interventions, debates, contestations taking place between these two perspectives. From such a position, we conceptualize futures as nonlinear, plural, and inevitably entangled with power structures, silences, (ab)negation, and aesthetics. Thus understood, Afr(io)futurism stretches far beyond the fields of speculative fiction and the Arts.

The workshop convenors invite interdisciplinary contributions about case studies reflecting on concepts of Afr(io)futurism while dealing with political movements, economic visions, historical references or religious doctrine, practice, or aesthetics and literatures crisscrossing temporalities and spatialities in Africa as well as in African diasporas. 

Our workshop aims at exploring the following issues:

  • What constitutes multiplicity in Afr(io)futurism? What kinds of utopias and aporias are put forth and which ones are silenced and evaded in Afr(io)futures?
  • How does power work along or against the actualization of alternative futures?
  • How does one negotiate between established structures and the agency to create desired futures in Africa and its diasporas?
  • How is contestation contextualized and to what extent does it facilitate convergence of solidarity between Africa and its diasporas?
  • What is the role of spirituality and religion in Afr(io)futurist visions of the future?

The deadline for paper proposals is 15 November 2021. An abstract of 250 words shall be send to britta.frede@uni-bayreuth.de . Proposals should feature the working title, the names and affiliations of the presenter(s), together with the contact information of the presenter(s). The abstract should provide a clear agenda of your planned presentation and its focus, that the organizers can allocate the proposed papers into relevant focus groups to facilitate reflective and engaged discussion. The workshop will be organized hybrid. This allows us to integrate participants from abroad and to react to pandemic related short-term changes to regulations. Therefore, participation is possible without physical presence but we would like to motivate to plan to attend in person if possible. However, travel funds for physical attendance cannot be provided by the organizers.

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