Afrofuturism – Coined by Mark Dery in 1994…

“African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future might, for want of a better term, be called ‘Afrofuturism.’ The notion of Afrofuturism gives rise to a troubling antinomy: Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces of its history, imagine possible futures?” (pg. 181)  Dery, Mark. Flame Wars: The Discourse by Cyberculture. Duke University Press, 1994. 

“Afrofuturism can be broadly defined as “African American voices” with “other stories to tell about culture, technology and things to come.” The term was chosen as the best umbrella for the concerns of “the list”—as it has come to be known by its members—“sci-fi imagery, futurist themes, and technological innovation in the African diaspora.” … Early discussions included the concept of digital double consciousness; African diasporic cultural retentions in modern technoculture; digital activism and issues of access; dreams of designing technology based on African mathematical principles; the futuristic visions of black film, video, and music; the implications of the then-burgeoning MP3 revolution; and the relationship between feminism and Afrofuturism” (p. 9).  Nelson, Alondra. “Introduction.” Social Text, vol. 20, no. 2, 2002, pp. 1–15., 

“The field of Afrofuturism does not seek to deny the tradition of counter-memory. Rather, it aims to extend that tradition by reorienting the intercultural vectors of Black Atlantic temporality towards the proleptic as much as the retrospective” (p. 289). “…Afrofuturism’s first priority is to recognize that Africa increasingly exists as the object of futurist projection. African social reality is overdetermined by intimidating global scenarios, doomsday economic projections, weather predictions, medical reports on AIDS, and life-expectancy forecasts, all of which predict decades of immiserization. These powerful descriptions of the future demoralize us; they command us to bury our heads in our hands, to groan with sadness…Within an economy that runs on SF capital and market futurism, Africa is always the zone of the absolute dystopia. There is always a reliable trade in market projections for Africa’s socioeconomic crises. Market dystopias aim to warn against predatory futures, but always do so in a discourse that aspires to unchallengeable certainty” (p. 291-292). Eshun, Kodwo. “Further Considerations of Afrofuturism.” CR: The New Centennial Review, vol. 3 no. 2, 2003, p. 287-302., doi:10.1353/ncr.2003.0021. 

“Afrofuturism has evolved into a coherent mode not only aesthetically but also in terms of its political mission. In its broadest dimensions Afrofuturism is an extension of the historical recovery projects that black Atlantic intellectuals have engaged in for well over 200 years. According to author Toni Morrison, these projects do more than simply combat the erasure of black subjects from Western history. They also demonstrate how African slaves and their descendants experienced conditions of homelessness, alienation, and dislocation that anticipate what philosophers like Nietzsche describe as the founding conditions of modernity (see Gilroy 1993: 178). Thus Afrodiasporic histories insist both on the authenticity of the black subject’s experience in Western history and the way this experience embodies the dislocation felt by many modern peoples” (p. 47). Yaszek, Lisa. “Afrofuturism, science fiction, and the history of the future.” Socialism and Democracy, 20:3, p. 41-60, 2006. DOI: 10.1080/08854300600950236

“Afrofuturism is an intersection of imagination, technology, the future, and liberation. ‘I generally define Afrofuturism as a way of imagining possible futures through a black cultural lens,’ says Ingrid LaFleur, an art curator and Afrofuturist. LaFleur presented for the independently organized TEDx Fort Greene Salon in Brooklyn, New York. ‘I see Afrofuturism as a way to encourage experimentation, reimagine identities, and activate liberation,’ she said.1 Whether through literature, visual arts, music, or grassroots organizing, Afrofuturists redefine culture and notions of blackness for today and the future. Both an artistic aesthetic and a framework for critical theory, Afrofuturism combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western beliefs. In some cases, it’s a total re-envisioning of the past and speculation about the future rife with cultural critiques.” Womack, Ytasha. Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture. Chicago Review Press, 2013. 

“Afrofuturism as an aesthetic and epistemology that thrives in the hostile white supremacist dystopia that is contemporary life. Afrofuturist feminism is manifested in a variety of ways in Black women’s cultural production—whether through fine art, music, fashion, literature, or other genres…Remixing, in the context of Afrofuturist feminism, refers to the pattern of disruption, pushing back, upending, and reassembling of futurist discourse that occurs in these pieces” (pg 33-35). Morris, Susana M. “More than Human: Black Feminisms of the Future in Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories.” The Black Scholar, vol. 46, no. 2, 2016, pp. 33–45., 


AfricanFuturism – Coined by author Nnedi Okorafor in 2019

“Africanfuturism is a sub-category of science fiction. Africanjujuism is a subcategory of fantasy that respectfully acknowledges the seamless blend of true existing African spiritualities and cosmologies with the imaginative. Africanfuturism is similar to “Afrofuturism” in the way that blacks on the continent and in the Black Diaspora are all connected by blood, spirit, history, and future. The difference is that Africanfuturism is specifically and more directly rooted in African culture, history, mythology, and point-of-view as it then branches into the Black Diaspora, and it does not privilege or center the West. Africanfuturism is concerned with visions of the future, is interested in technology, leaves the earth, skews optimistic, is centered on and predominantly written by people of African descent (black people) and it is rooted first and foremost in Africa. It’s less concerned with “what could have been” and more concerned with “what is and can/will be”. It acknowledges, grapples with, and carries “what has been”. Africanfuturism does not HAVE to extend beyond the continent of Africa, though often it does. Its default is non-western; its default/center is African. This is distinctly different from “Afrofuturism” (The word itself was coined by Mark Dery and his definition positioned African American themes and concerns at the definition’s center. Note that in this case, I am defining “African Americans” as those who are direct descendants of the stolen and enslaved Africans of the transatlantic slave trade).” (Okorafor, 2019)

Black Speculative Arts

“Black speculative art is a creative, aesthetic practice that integrates African diasporic or African metaphysics with science or technology and seeks to interpret, engage, design, or alter reality for the re-imagination of the past, the contested present, and act as a catalyst for the future” (Anderson 2016, 233)