This week we will be looking at Kodwo Eshun’s ‘Further Considerations of Afrofuturism’. As a philosophical and aesthetic movement examining the effects of the African Diaspora through technoculture and science fiction, Afrofuturism is both historical and rebellious. Taking the long view of history, its authors imagine possible futures that stem from diasporic experiences. Eshun’s daring essay encourages readers to take such a view in a process of disalienation and engineering feedback between a preferred future and a becoming present.
Eshun’s essay deploys an unconventional framing narrative: He invites readers to imagine “a team of African archaeologists from the future” attempting to reconstruct 20th-century Afrodiasporic subjectivity through a comparative study of various cultural media and artefacts. With this framing device, Eshun seizes the radical potential of science fiction, seeing our present as the past of a sci-fi future to come. This reading fits his notion of the ‘Chronopolitical’, which follows disturbances and interruptions in the linear time of progress, modernity and capital, and adjusting the temporal logics that have for so long, excluded black people.
Building on previous weeks’ material, such as Aria Dean’s ‘Notes on Blacceleration’, Eshun argues that African slaves were the first modern subjects and the ‘real world’ subjects of science fiction scenarios. As such, Afrofuturism resists graven future images of (post)modernity and its attendant techno-scientific alienations which, implicitly or explicitly, exclude black people. It adjusts and reorients history to offer counter, or alternative futures to come.
You can join us in the Westmere Hub at 5:15pm on Tuesday the 23rd of July.
This week’s reading is available here:
There’s also a video of a lecture by Eshun called ‘Narratives of the Near Future’, which covers some of the ideas in the essay, as well as extra stuff that we’ve talked about previously, so great for extra listening!
You may also wish to join our mailing list, in which case you’ll want to email Ben Horn at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to seeing you all at the session!
The Contemporary Theory Reading Group