P162 – Visions of Future/s: Towards Radical Collective Imaginations
9 July, 14:00-15:30

Fink Katharina / Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, University of Bayreuth
Piesche Peggy / Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, University of Bayreuth


‘Future’ seems to appear as an uncontested category in the analysis of political movements, revolutions and rebellions. It is taken as a given that struggling people strive for a ‘better future’ which conceptually lies in a teleological ‘after present’. Beyond this understanding we propose ‘future’ as an analytical category, as a possibility and potentiality to think radical collectivities through imagination. ‘Future’ is herein not a linear consequence of an assumed today, but a speculative tool and space of potentiality and anticipation, a possible intervention into the present. This leads to the collapse of conventional normative temporal orders of nation state, kinship, bodies and senses of hope and ‘belonging’ and unleashes energy for speculative imagining, e.g.as utopias, dystopias, radical socialities and being with and for others. “What if?” here serves as a catalyst for radical collectivities and can also function as a prism of various positionalities, wherein ‘future’ consequently shatters into multiple futures for and from diverse perspectives. Looking at ‘future/s’ in this way enables to understand temporary or enduring collectivities, their formation and fluidity. It also enables the focus on practices of the radical imagining other-wise, beyond terms such as ‘inversion’ and ‘subversion’ and dichotomies (‘rural – urban’, ‘local – global’, ‘western – non-western’).

Les visions du (des) futur(s): vers des imaginations collectives radicales
Le “futur” fait figure d’une catégorie incontestée dans l’analyse des mouvements politiques, des révolutions et des rebellions. Il est pris pour acquis le fait que les peuples en lutte œuvrent pour un futur meilleur, situé dans un post­présent téléologique. Au-delà de cette conception, nous proposons l’idée du futur comme une catégorie analytique, une possibilité et une potentialité qui nous invite à penser les collectivités radicales par le biais de l’imagination. Dans cette perspective, le futur ne se définit point comme une conséquence linéaire d’un présumé aujourd’hui, mais plutôt en tant qu’outil spéculatif et espace de potentialité et d’anticipation, une intervention possible dans le présent. Cette optique engendre une déconstruction des cadres temporels normatifs en ce qui concerne l’État­nation, les rapports de parenté ainsi que les sens d’espoir et d’appartenance et ouvre la voie à l’imagination spéculative sous la forme des utopies, des dystopies, des socialités radicales et le fait d’être avec et pour les autres. « Et si ? » sert de catalyseur pour les collectivités et peut aussi fournir le prisme pour un vaste éventail des positionnements par lesquelles le ‘futur’ se fond en plusieurs futurs pour (et à partir) des perspectives diverses. Le fait de percevoir le(s) futur(s) sous cet éclairage nous aide à comprendre les collectivités temporaires et durables, avec leur formation et fluidité. Cela nous permet également de nous focaliser sur les pratiques de l’imagination radicale autrement, au­delà des terminologies telles que « l’inversion » et « la subversion » et les dichotomies (‘rural­urbain’, ‘local­global’, ‘occidental­non­occidental’).

Paper 1

Piesche Peggy / Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, University of Bayreuth

Radicalizing the Present and Implementing the Future of Digital Collectives between the Diaspora and the Continent

In an attempt to interrogate the complex relationships between the virtual realm and the diversity of Black (diasporic) movements this paper focus on newly evolving opportunities for digital collectives to renegotiate black identity between Africa and the African Diaspora. In the spaces without borders, geographies and national belongings as defined in the physical world seem to be dissolved. Black public intellectuals, activists, artists, and other individuals of significance create new spaces of collective belonging beyond national references of African and/ or diasporic identities. Starting from diverse virtual archives, such as individual blogs, forums, petitions, collaborative multi-media-, and social media platforms the paper will discuss how the virtual space provides options for decolonization. Campaigns and movements like the ‘Hoodie for Trayvon Martin’ (2012), the new African musician band project “Africa Stop Ebola” (2014), or the “pan-African network of cultural thinkers” by Nana Oforiatta-Ayim have a profound impact on radical collective thoughts. The various spaces and channels in the virtual realm are looking to strengthen the African and diasporic creative networks and they form themselves into communal inspiration, which create radical imagination for diasporic black cultural politics right here in our presen/t/ce.

Paper 2

Gunkel Henriette / Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London

Hameed Ayesha / Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London

A Lexicon of Afterlives

This joint presentation takes as point of departure the possibility of a ‚future archaeology’ of the middle passage. We consider the speculative possibilities within the archive, within the fragmentation of a collective experience and history, and the different images and myths produced by contemporary African and African-diasporic artists. This is explored in the form of a lexicon/ a speculative archive of images, sounds and text: positing the space ship as an afterlife of the slaveship; the work of Wangechi Mutu as an afterimage of the Detroit based electronic band Drexciya; the notion of life in the hold of the slaveship as a prehistory to the formation of collectivities; and exploring the construction of the image of the Door of No Return.

Paper 3

Siegert Nadine / Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth

Fink Katharina / Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies

Collective imaginations of militant femininity: The anticipatory force of images before, during and after the revolution

Our joint paper is based on the findings by researchers such as Tétreault (1994), Lyons (2004) or Arnfred (2011) on the role of women during the period of the liberation wars. The fight for independence was also a collective female space and time that offered the possibility and potentiality to imagine and realize new models of female sociality. I argue, that these changes are also visible in the image production of that time. But not only before and during the revolution, images of the ‚female soldier’ communicated the role of women; also in retrospective is this figure present in visual culture, like in the recent movie production ‘Virgem Margarida’ (2012). In our paper, we focus on the iconography of women before, during and after the independence in Angola and Mozambique as a form of radical collective vision of the future. This better future has not only been imagined in a time to come, but already found its realization in images. Visual culture —here we focus on the construction of femininity by means of composition —thus served as an anticipatory force: images became mighty images as speculative tools in the imagination of a concrete utopia (cf. Bloch, 1986). The militancy of the female fighter as a radical collective sociality has been contrasted or interfused with the image of the urban women and prostitute as well as the image of the mother.

Paper 4

Ugwuanyi Lawrence Ogbo / Department of Philosophy and Religions,University of Abuja

Towards a Scientific Philosophy of the Future

For a long time the idea of the future has been relegated to the background in philosophical enquiry. Whereas theology has a discipline clearly cut out to probe into the future albeit through a belief ethic known as eschatology, philosophy has largely ignored the future as a domain that deserves critical enquiry. The idea of the future is often left to guesses, magicians, fortune tellers, or marabouts,ect, who cash on the sensitive nature of the idea to exploit gullible minds. Several reasons may be adduced for this .The first is that the future has deep psychological challenges such that a concern for the future may lead to anxiety. The second is that the future is largely believed to be unknown and it does not seem to make sense to rationally engage in it because the outcome of the engagement has to be left to the future to validate . But these are even the more reason why it is rationally cogent to engage the future in the philosophical arena. This is because the future have strong impact on the present and the idea we form about the future and how we locate it in relation to our works and ideas has significant impact on the entire human and social ordering.

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