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For the past few months, fans have been connecting the dots between Afro-futurism and the Black Panther superhero movie. So HBO’s VICE asked three artists, including our very own, Nnedi Okorafor, to share their thoughts on the concept of Afro-futurism.

For those of you wondering what all the fuss about Afro-futurism is, here is a little introduction. Afro-futurism is a term coined by culture critic Mark Dery in the 1990s. The term defines art forms based on imaginations of the future through the lens of blackness. Against the domination of sci-fi/fantasy by white male writers, Afro-futurism provides a space for artistic work and scholarly inquiry built around identifying what is futuristic about black life, worlds, imagination, and power.

But like every artistic moment, Afro-futurism is also the source of considerable disagreement. Scholars and artists have never really been able to agree on the definition of the concept and the terms of its complexities. As a result, with Black Panther being touted as the first truly mainstream Afro-futurist film project, HBO’s VICE team sets out to dig deeper by interviewing Nnedi Okorafor, who has written several of the Black Panther comics issues, and author and choreographer Ytasha Womack

The entire video is worth 5 minutes of your life. But a few things stand out. Okorafor talks about how the absence of Africa in sci-fi narratives inspired her writing. We also love Okorafor’s insistence on the African roots of Afro-futurism: “It is rooted in Africa, and just like the diaspora, everything else is connected to it.”

Her insistence on the African origins of the concept is tied to widely publicized belief that Afro-futurism is not new to Africa, that African art forms have always been traced through by something futuristic.

Anyway, watch and enjoy!

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

4 Responses to “WATCH | Nnedi Okorafor in HBO’s Afro-Futurism Documentary” Subscribe

  1. Tonya Moore 2018/03/01 at 00:30 #

    Afro-futurism is a topic that has been weighing on my mind lately as I think about what I want to write. What I’m finding is that as a student of Creative Writing, I’ve been quite fortunate to have such a rich variety of afro-futuristic works and ideas to draw inspiration from. Hopefully, someday I’ll be able to contribute something of value to the genre.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Elisha Hall - 2018/03/04

    […] with this in mind, we will continue to process our future through a Western lens. This is why Afrofuturism & Indigenous Futurism are so critical to us – why language is so important. It allows us […]

  2. Wakanda - Comprendre Pour Changer - 2018/03/06

    […] C’est aussi pourquoi la romancière américano-nigériane Nnedi Okorafor l’a choisi comme décor, voire personnage, de son roman Lagoon, rédigé en réponse à District 9 et mettant en scène des extraterrestres atterrissant cette fois à Lagos. Nnedi Okorafor peut au demeurant être considérée comme la figure de proue de l’afrofuturisme « africain ». Sa renommée internationale s’est étendue depuis que les droits de son roman Who Fears Death ont été rachetés par le producteur de Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin, pour devenir la prochaine série à succès de la chaine HBO. Auteure de nombreux ouvrages et notamment de plusieurs numéros récents du comic book Black Panther, Nnedi Okorafor ne manque pas aussi de créer régulièrement la polémique en martelant à qui veut l’entendre que l’afrofuturisme trouve ses origines en Afrique et doit de ce fait y revenir. […]

  3. Le Wakanda de « Black Panther » : une Afrique du futur en miniature ? | Just Follow Me magazine - 2018/04/02

    […] C’est aussi pourquoi la romancière américano-nigériane Nnedi Okorafor l’a choisi comme décor, voire personnage, de son roman Lagoon, rédigé en réponse à District 9 et mettant en scène des extraterrestres atterrissant cette fois à Lagos. Nnedi Okorafor peut au demeurant être considérée comme la figure de proue de l’afrofuturisme « africain ». Sa renommée internationale s’est étendue depuis que les droits de son roman Who Fears Death ont été rachetés par le producteur de Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin, pour devenir la prochaine série à succès de la chaine HBO. Auteure de nombreux ouvrages et notamment de plusieurs numéros récents du comic book Black Panther, Nnedi Okorafor ne manque pas aussi de créer régulièrement la polémique en martelant à qui veut l’entendre que l’afrofuturisme trouve ses origines en Afrique et doit de ce fait y revenir. […]

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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