Peggy Piesche is a literary and Cultural Studies scholar who’s work is centered in Black European Studies. At the Bayreuth University she is currently working in the Academy for Advanced African Studies. Her book-length research project there, “Concepts of Future in MediaSpaces” is exploring how Diaspora is negotiated through notions of race and digitalized collective identities. Her book publications include AufBrüche. Kulturelle Produktionen von Migrantinnen, Schwarzen und jüdischen Frauen in Deutschland (Ulrike Helmer Verlag, 1999), May-Ayim-Award: Erster Internationaler Schwarzer deutscher Literaturpreis (Orlanda Verlag, 2004), Mythen, Masken und Subjekte. Kritische Weißseinsforschung in Deutschland (Unrast Verlag, 2005 and 2009), “Euer Schweigen schützt euch nicht.” Audre Lorde und die Schwarze Frauenbewegung in Deutschland (Orlanda Verlag, 2012). Piesche’s areas of research and teaching include Critical Race and Whiteness Studies, Black Feminist Studies, Diaspora and Translocality, and the Performativity of Memory cultures (Spatiality and Coloniality of Memories). Articles on these subjects appeared in several journals and edited volumes. Peggy Piesche is also an activist member of ADEFRA (Black Women in Germany) and the Black community in Germany.
Susan Arndt is Professor of Transcultural Anglophone Studies at the University of Bayreuth. She studied literature, linguistics and cultural studies in Berlin and London and worked at the Universities of Oxford, Berlin, Frankfurt/Main and Bayreuth. Her major research interests are British, Anglophone and diasporic fiction as related to postcoloniality, gender, intertextuality, futurity, posthumanism and technology.
She is the author of Die 101 wichtigsten Fragen. Rassismus (München: C.H.Beck 2012, 2nd edition 2015),
The Dynamics of African Feminism. Defining and Classifying African Feminist Literatures (Trenton, NJ; Asmara: Africa World Press 2002) and African Women’s Literature, Orature and Intertextuality (Bayreuth: Bayreuth African Studies) (1998).
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?