In the past few decades, Western studies of Afrofuturism have grown to encompass examples deriving from multiple sites across the diaspora, as well as from the African continent. However, an increasing number of Africans and Africanists have voiced their concerns about grouping African work under the larger umbrella of Afrofuturism without distinction and have emphasized the need to investigate the differences between African American and African production. This book offers an introduction to Africanfuturism—a body of African speculative works that is distinguishable from, albeit related to, US-based Afrofuturism.
Kimberly Cleveland uses Africanfuturism as an intellectual lens to explore works that embody combinations of possibilities, challenges, and concerns related to what lies ahead for the continent and its peoples. This book highlights twenty-first-century film, video, painting, sculpture, photography, tapestry, novels, short stories, comic books, song lyrics, and architecture by African creatives of different nationalities, races, ethnicities, genders, and generations. Cleveland analyzes the ideas and opinions of African intellectuals and cultural producers, combining interviews with historical research. Each chapter features one of Africanfuturism’s most common themes: space and time exploration, creation of worlds, technology and the digital divide, Sankofa and remix, and mythmaking.
This investigation of Africanfuturism is geared toward students, academics, and Afrofuturism enthusiasts, and its included discussion questions facilitate classroom use. The book illuminates Africa’s place in the worlds of science fiction and fantasy and how Africanfuturist work builds on the continent’s own traditions of speculative expression. Because these creative works disrupt the history of Western domination in Africa, Cleveland also connects Africanfuturism with the process of decolonization and addresses specific ways in which African creatives (re)center indigenous beliefs, strategies, and approaches in their production. Africanfuturism encourages both imaginative possibilities and potential real-world outcomes, highlighting the rich contributions of Africans to the vision of future worlds.
Across Africa—in fiction, film, comics, games, painting, photography, sculpture, digital arts, even architecture —artists have long been creating decolonial visions of their world, its alternatives, and possible futures. It’s well past time for the rest of us to sit up and pay attention—and Kimberly Cleveland’s wide-ranging exploration of twenty-first-century Africanfuturism is the ideal place to start. — Mark Bould, University of the West of England
Africanfuturism is a compelling and urgent investigation into the diversity of speculative expression throughout Africa. Meticulously researched, wide-ranging, and accessible in voice, Kimberly Cleveland convincingly makes the case for understanding Africa’s futures-to-come as a decolonial project, situated within the historical, technological, and material urgencies of the continent’s present. — Andrew J. Hennlich, Western Michigan University
While there have been many polemical calls to distinguish African speculative art practices from ones centered in the diaspora, Kimberly Cleveland finally does it. With its accessible prose, discussion questions, and compelling examples drawn from art, literature, and film, Africanfuturism is a welcome addition to the art history or African studies classroom. — Paul Wilson, Ithaca College
Kimberly Cleveland’s Africanfuturism is impressively far-reaching. Designed as an introduction, it unpacks and elucidates how Africanfuturism’s decolonial and utopian visions for the future are developed across a wide array of cultural and artistic practices. Individual chapters draw detailed examples from literature, music, film, photography, sculpture, architecture, and more for how they shape this evolving critical and cultural discourse. Cleveland’s felicity with multiple artistic and cultural forms and practices is impressive and deeply informative. Newcomers and experts alike will find much to engage with here. I’m excited to share this scholarly and accessible book with my students. — Hugh C. O’Connell, University of Massachusetts Boston