Our sub-project is dedicated to fictional conceptualisations of the future in the intersection and overlapping of internet, imagination and Africa and its diasporas.
The sub-project “Concepts of Future in Mediaspaces of Africa and its Diasporas” is dedicated to fictional conceptualizations of ‘Future’ in the intersecting trans-spaces of Internet, Fiction, and Africa/n Diasporas. In doing so, literary studies are mobilized as transcultural and transmedial “life science” (Ottmar Ette).
Diasporas constitute societal spaces that perform entangled (hi)stories and generate transcultural futures, promising creative solutions for global challenges. Fiction does not exist in a vacuum; rather, given constellations of knowledge, power and visions are negotiated polyphonously—affirmed, and/or subverted. Diasporas transgress borders between languages and nations just as much as fiction transgresses conventional boundaries of genres and media. The Internet has become a haven and home for these kinds of intersections and interactions of both Africa and its diasporas as well as media and genres. Weblogs, informational as well as social fora (to mention just the most obvious), are mediaspaces that are informed by given geopolitical power constellations and yet offer scopes of intellectual and aesthetic mobility that transgress them. Here, a poetics arises that (re)invents itself for the future, coping with history and negotiating the present.
Methodology and Theory
Literary Studies facing transmedial and transcultural fiction has to reinvent itself and resituate its structures, concepts and agendas. The various projects will rely on an expertise in African and African-diasporic Literatures, English and Anglophone Literatures, as well as German and Romance Literatures. Yet, conventional pigeonholes such as national literatures and one-language-one-nation-only frames of literary studies are likewise transgressed. As a result, the project performs Transcultural Literary Studies, relying on postcolonial theory and critical whiteness studies, Diaspora studies, gender and sexuality studies, and queer studies.
1. How are visions of ‘Future’ mediated via the Internet?
2. Which visions and projections of ,Future’—with particular reference to Africa/n diasporas, Europe, and the USA—are negotiated in fiction, above all in Afrofuturism, Africanist Science Fiction and African-diasporic Net-Art?
3. How have Afrofuturism, Africanist SF and African-diasporic Net-Art intervened and generated visions of histories that remember into futures? (How) do they influence conceptualizations of the future and intervene in contemporary processes? What are the implications of such interventions?
4. What are the impacts of visions of ‘Future’ on global archives of knowledge, on transcultural dialogicity, and on local and translocal conceptions of ‘Future’ in Europe, Africa and the USA?
5. (How) Does the Internet influence other media? Does it open specific potentials for future-oriented, transcultural and transmedial forms of expression, as well as, e.g., new economic and ethical formats of ‘intellectual property’? How do various genres interact, how are their stakeholders and/or agencies cross-linked on the local and/or transregional levels, and how do their literary-aesthetical visions of ‘Future’ influence political activism in ‘real’ (local) settings, especially in urban agglomerations—understood as contact spaces between Africa-/Europe/Northern America/Asia, and Africa/Diaspora(s)—, respectively?
6. Different Web formats (blogs, artists’ websites, publications in social fora, etc.) will be compared in order to address the following questions: To what extent do new aesthetic genres, especially those of particular relevance for the development and/or presentation of visions of ‘Future’ in/for Africa, emerge from and through the Internet? In a comparative perspective, Internet literature of the African Diaspora(s) can be analyzed in relation to other, ‘classical’ literary media (publishers, booksellers, literary cafés, academia, etc.), and the relevance of the Internet for different regional spaces shall be considered. Insomuch as Web-based aesthetic production presents itself as polyphonic genre-crossing, prose and Spoken Word Performances will be compared with genres such as fine (visual) arts, photography, music, and theatre/film production in/of African Diaspora(s).
7. (How) Can research on new literary representations of future (e.g. ‘Afrofuturism’, SF, African-diasporic Net-Art) determine coordinates for the future of a ‘Literary Study in Motion’ (Ottmar Ette), contribute to new paradigms and mappings, and thereby result in the advancement of both literature and literary studies?