Afrofuturism 2.0 – A New Cultural Enabler for the Digital Age


Afrofuturism as a concept is about 25 years old, with Mark Dery’s interview essay Black to the Future (1993) giving the movement its name and paving the way for further interventions. Afrofuturistic works typically include novels, paintings, photography, music such as Sun Ra's and the Marvel Comics superhero Black Panther. Over the last decade or so, a new kind of Afrofuturism has risen, coined Afrofuturism 2.0. While some of it harkens back to the earlier Afrofuturism, much of it is spearheading into an uncharted digital future. An early indicator for this change was the special issue of the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, 3(3), in September 2016 which provided studies of the work of important recent African Scifi writers such as Okorafor, Beukes, Laing, Bodomo, and Olukotun. In my presentation, I will chart the culture of this movement along with the now finished seminal Sci-Fi trilogy Wormwood (2018-19) by Nigerian writer Tade Thompson. The presentation will look at the digital culture surrounding it and put it into perspective vis-à-vis other recent cultural representations of Afrofuturism, including the hugely successful Black Panther film based on the comic series (2018). It will emerge that through digital cultural tools, Afrofuturism has successfully reinvented itself, thereby going beyond its erstwhile narrow fan base and successfully empowering and enabling communities in Africa, particularly so in Nigeria. It has also led to further acceptance of African Sci-Fi literature in the West, embracing difference.

Author Information
Holger Briel, Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University, China

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2020
Stream: Cultural Studies

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon