Afrofuturism: where space, pyramids and politics collide

By | January 7, 2014

In times of economic and political crisis popular culture tends to turn to the fantastical, providing an escape from the harsh realities of life. However, what is usually represented as Utopian in mainstream science fiction is often culturally European with a story that frequently revolves around a white male character. Even when depicting “multiracial” future societies, culturally the tropes of that imagined culture are regularly not representative of the races seen. If we accept that all humanity will be present in the future, why is it that non-European cultures seem to disappear once we get through the Earth’s atmosphere?

In 1993, Mark Dery created the term Afrofuturism to describe science fiction by African-American writers such as Samuael R Delaney and Octavia Butler, whose work “treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of 20th century technoculture and, more generally, African-American signification that appropriate images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future”. The term is now used to describe works that explore black experience in the science-fiction genre. However the ideas and aesthetics that form Afrofuturism go back further than the work of these authors, with Afrofuturist elements being found in music, art and film. Afrofuturism also goes beyond spaceships, androids and aliens, and encompasses African mythology and cosmology with an aim to connect those from across the Black Diaspora to their forgotten African ancestry. (The Guardian UK)

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