When is Wakanda? Afrofuturism and Dark Speculative Futurity


Journal of Futures Studies special symposium issue call for papers and mixed media

We see the need to deepen, as Kodwo Eshun has phrased it in his article Further Considerations on Afrofuturism (2003), our Afrofutures “tool kit developed for and by Afrodiasporic intellectuals” with the imperative “to code, adopt, adapt, translate, misread, rework, and revise” visions of the black imagination and aspiration alongside a critical appraisal of the utopic, technologically sophisticated city state and space of Wakanda, the mythical black nation untouched by colonization in the film The Black Panther. As a historic, record setting film in terms of its cast and record breaking box office revenues, the Black Panther film simultaneously embodies and problematizes the Black Diasporic and Pan African imagination. At the same time, the Black Panther unfurls the curtain of Afrofuturism steeped in a stunning panoramic vision of African traditions combined with magic, technology, vibranium, fashion and fashionable wearables, multidimensional Feminist black women with careers, love interests and ambition, sensitive and vulnerable leaders, complex villains and flawed allies.

Coined by Mark Dery in the early 1990s, Afrofuturism has undergone a rapid theoretical expansion in the latest work Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness. In early 2000, Kodwo Eshun and Alondra Nelson were some of the first scholars to extend Afrofuturism by characterizing it “as a program for recovering the histories of counter-futures created in a century hostile to Afro-diasporic projection and as a space within which the critical work of manufacturing tools capable of intervention within the current political [situation may be undertaken]. The manufacture, migration, and mutation of concepts and approaches within the fields of the theoretical and the fictional, the digital and the sonic, the visual and the architectural exemplifies the expanded field of Afrofuturism.” Eshun considered Afrofuturism “as a multimedia project distributed across the nodes, hubs, rings, and stars of the Black Atlantic”(Eshun: 2000). Afrofuturism 2.0 represents a transition from previous ideas related to afrofuturism that were formed in the late 20th century around issues of the digital divide, music and literature. Afrofuturism 2.0 expands and broadens the discussion around the concept to include religion, architecture, communications, visual art, philosophy and reflects its current growth as an emerging global Pan African creative phenomenon. Afrofuturism 2.0 is now characterized by five dimensions, to include: metaphysics; aesthetics; theoretical and applied science; social sciences; and programmatic spaces. In Afrofuturism 2.0, Astro-Blackness refers to “a person’s black state of consciousness, released from the confining and crippling slave or colonial mentality, becomes aware of the multitude and varied possibilities and probabilities within the universe” (Rollins 2015).

In this special symposium, we aspire to expand and engage beyond the Black Atlantic to include the Black Pacific. This special issue encourages scholars to engage with Afrofuturism 2.0 perspectives, futures studies, Asian futurity, pan-African dialogue (Scholars such as R.K. Edozie, Ali Mazrui and Kwame Nkrumah) and the Black pacific context (with scholars such as R. Shilliam, E. Taketani, and B.V. Mullen). Scholars such as Kodwo Eshun, Alondra Nelson, Julius Gatune, Ziaudden Sardar, Sohail Inayatullah, Jose Ramos, Jim Dator and others have challenged us to consider futures research outside of a Eurocentric perspective and inspire us to fashion new tools for Afrofutures speculative thought and applied research outside of a Eurocentric perspective and inspire us to fashion new tools for Afrofutures speculative thought and applied research. As a start, Afrofutures research begins with discovering weak signals of emerging future scenarios that Dr. Brooks has called Afrofuturetypes, that act as a basis for critiquing images of the future circulating as science fiction capital in popular culture by hacking and reimagining them with alternative agents and agency with black and other oppressed groups in mind. Black spirituals, rap and other black musical performances have envisioned the past, present and future to transform usually ghettoized dystopic spaces into domains of survival, redemption and openings for imagined futures. Afrofuturetypes help guide us in signaling and emphasizing black futures in process and on the horizon in the near to long-term futures.

Dark Speculative Futurity was defined by Reynaldo Anderson in the late 20th century and early 21st century development, as the emergence, and philosophical maturity of non-white people in regards to their own agency or significance in relation to humanity or other life forms. Furthermore, this futurity is about how they choose to describe or forecast phenomena in terms of their cultural purpose, principles, or goals in regards to global change, technological and social acceleration, ecological processes, and interstellar aspirations.

With this aspiration in mind, this special issue symposium invites not only critical essays and articles on this theme; we want to see, hear, and feel Afrofuturism and Wakandan imaginings in their digital splendor as well. Afrofuturist artists, musicians and aesthetic creators in this genre are invited to contribute and propose digital exhibits of video, visual compositions, podcasts, and creative Q&A around collective mediums such as Google Hangouts, Zoom or other effective media.

Format of papers and mixed media projects (projects that intersect with the Afrofuturism genre and field and that document that interaction)

This special issue is accepting both articles and essays and multimedia as well:

– Refereed articles provide depth treatment and research on the topic (7,000 word limit)

– Essays provide strong prose, reflection and new ideas (3,500 word limit)

– JFS digital exhibits – see for examples: http://jfsdigital.org/category/digital-exhibits/

– audio-visual – e.g. podcast, Afrofuturist art, visual design, fashion

– interactive – Q&A using Google Hangouts or Zoom or other interactive tool

Style and formatting guide can be found here: http://jfsdigital.org/invitation-to-authors/


– Abstracts for essays Due 15 April 2018

– Abstracts Due 15 May 2018 (refereed articles and multimedia contributions)

– Abstracts Accepted 1 July 2018

– Draft Papers Due 1 September 2018

– Drafts Accepted 1 October 2019

– Final Papers Due 1 November 2019

*Publication in second or third quarter of 2019.

Send Abstracts and/or inquiries to:

Dr. Brooks dr.brooks@gmail.com

Dr. Anderson afrofuturismscholar@gmail.com

Dr. Baham nick.baham@csueastbay.edu

 and cc Dr. José Ramos jose@actionforesight.net



About the Special Editors


Lonny J Avi Brooks is an Associate professor in the Communication Department at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB). He is the Principal Investigator for the Long Term and Futures Thinking in Education Project and piloted the integration futures thinking into the communication curriculum for the last fifteen years. Prof. Brooks works with Professor Ian Pollock in creating Game Jams that express alternative visions of the future with students from various disciplinary backgrounds who develop analog/video games. Their recent Minority Reports 2054 Game Jam at CSUEB, was featured at the Let’s Play: Intuition, Imagination, and Black Creativity, exhibit, ProArts Gallery, Oakland (2017). Together, they ran the collaborative panel workshop Forecast Gaming with The Thing From the Future: Imagining and Hacking into the Future for Our Legacy, Our Relevance at the National Communication Association conference (Nov. 2017). His current manuscript in progress is Working in the Future Tense@Futureland: Circulating Afrofuturetypes of Work, Culture and Racial Identity. His latest articles include the forthcoming “Minority Reports from 2054: Building Collective and Critical Forecasting Imaginaries and Afrofuturetypes in Game Jamming” for the special 2018 issue of the Canadian journal TOPIA: Black Lives, Black Politics, Black Futures and “Cruelty and Afrofuturism,” a special commentary section on Cruelty in the Age of Trump for the Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies journal. With Dr. Reynaldo Anderson who pioneered the next wave of Afrofuturism 2.0, Dr. Brooks published “Student visions of multiple urban futures 2050” in Envisioning futures for environmental and sustainability education. Professor Brooks’ work in the genre of Afrofuturism began with “Playing a Minority Forecaster in Search of Afrofuturism: Where am I in this future Stewart Brand?” a contributing chapter to Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness. Dr. Brooks works to build a talent network and think tank of Afrofuturists online as the Executive Producer, co-creator, and resident Afrofuturist with Ahmed Best as Executive Producer, co-creator and host of The Afrofuturist Podcast—Democratizing the Future! accessible on iTunes and Stitcher.

Professor Brooks works with Prof. Ian Pollock to develop quarterly Game Jams with forecasting themes to generate games that imagine and address challenges in the near and long term future. In collaboration with Prof. Pollock, Prof. Brooks is completing Minority Reports from 2054: Building Collective and Critical Forecasting Imaginaries and Afrofuturetypes in Game Jamming. Paper accepted for the special 2018 issue of the Canadian journal TOPIA: Black Lives, Black Politics, Black Futures.

His research of long term thinking of is part of a larger study of how organizations (especially forecasting think tanks), interaction designers, and college youth envision the future of media and information technologies. This research brings together his interests in the social and cultural impacts of new media and the distribution of societal stories we invent to forward, mitigate, or restrain technological and scientific invention. He looks at futurist think tanks worldwide to investigate the metaphors employed in future scenarios of computing as they interact with historical, sociocultural memories, and present-day realities.  As part of his research on emergent trends in social computing and user experience research, he investigates how long term thinking can be implemented in higher education.

Professor Brooks received his PhD in Communication at UC San Diego and an MA in Library and Information Science at UCLA. He is past Chair of the Communication And The Future (CATF) division of the National Communication Association. He advises students in advertising, public relations and organizational communication. His first publication about long term thinking and how it shaped Silicon Valley’s brand of capitalism is available in this article: Brooks, Lonny J and Bowker, Geoffrey (2002). Playing at work: Understanding the Future of Work Practices at the Institute for the Future. Information, Communication & Society. Volume 5, Number 1 / January 01, 2002 (109 – 136). Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group.

Dr. Reynaldo Anderson currently serves as an Associate Professor of Communication and Chair of the Humanities department at Harris-Stowe State University in Saint Louis Missouri. Reynaldo has earned several awards for leadership and teaching excellence and he is currently the Past Chair of the Black Caucus of the National Communication Association (NCA). Reynaldo has not only served as an executive board member of the Missouri Arts Council, he has previously served at an international level working for prison reform with C.U.R.E. International in Douala Cameroon, and as a development ambassador recently assisting in the completion of a library project for the Sekyere Afram Plains district in the country of Ghana. Reynaldo publishes extensively in the area of Afrofuturism, communication studies, and the African diaspora experience. Reynaldo is currently the executive director and co-founder of the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM) a network of artists, curators, intellectuals and activists. Finally, he is the co-editor of the book Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness published by Lexington books, co-editor of Cosmic Underground: A Grimoire of Black Speculative Discontent published by Cedar Grove Publishing, the forthcoming volume The Black Speculative Art Movement: Black Futurity, Art+Design to be released by Lexington press in 2018, and the co-editor of Black Lives, Black Politics, Black Futures, a forthcoming special issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies.

Dr. Nicholas L. Baham III is a Professor of Ethnic Studies at California State University East Bay and teaches courses in African American Studies and Genders & Sexualities in Communities of Color.  Dr. Baham is a San Francisco native. He attended college at the University of Chicago, earned his Master’s degree at Stanford University and received his Ph.D. in Anthropology at Indiana University, Bloomington. His academic research focuses on African American religious experience, sexuality, and artistic expression. His book, The Coltrane Church: Apostles of Sound, Agents of Social Justice will be published in 2015 by McFarland Press. He has a growing body of published journal articles on the Coltrane Church, African American musical and religious expression, and James Baldwin including “I Know You Know: Esperanza Spalding’s Hybrid, Intertextual, Multilingual, Relevant Jazz Aesthetic,”  “Radio Free Coltrane: Free Jazz Radio as Revolutionary Practicein Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture, and “Rough Sex and Racial Reconciliation in James Baldwin’s Another Country” to be published as a chapter in an upcoming edition of new writing on the legacy of James Baldwin. He has presented his work nationally and internationally at the Universite Paul-Valery in Montpellier, France, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, Tuskegee, and Suffolk University. Dr. Baham has appeared on BET, local KPOO and KPFA radio, Canada’s SexTV and in ColorLines and Esquire magazine. He has initiated a blog of African American politics and culture called The Upper Room at nicholasbaham.blogspot.com. At California State University East Bay, Dr. Baham teaches courses on African American intellectual history, religion, jazz music, hip-hop, sexuality,James Baldwin, Malcolm X, race and masculinity, and a yearlong freshman cluster on the history of European colonialism.




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