WORLD ANTHROPOLOGICAL UNION

CONGRESS 2024​

SELECTED PANEL

( pn76 )

“Afrofuturism and Indigenous Futures: From the Utopias of the 20th Century to the Possibilities of the 21st Century.”

Organizers

    Maximino Matus Ruiz

    Mexico

    Colef

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

    Rosa Claudia Lora Krstulovic

    Mexico

    CIESAS

    Online - Presence

IUAES Affiliation: Visual Anthropology

Keywords:

Afrofuturism, Indigenous Futures, Utopias, Dystopias, Pluriverses

Abstract:

In his proposal for the development of an autonomous and ontological design, Arturo Escobar has adopted from Fry (2012, 2015) the concept of 'defuturization' to refer to what he considers one of the most severe effects of modernity: the systematic destruction of possible futures by the unsustainability of the Western modern project. As an alternative, 'non-accidental futurization' seeks the opposite; it promotes the possibility of generating a future with futures (Escobar, 2016). An example of how imagining the future -or futures- has allowed excluded groups to circumvent Western modernity is Afrofuturism, which emerged as a response to racial classification systems, thus opening up infinite possibilities. However, from our perspective, a significant difference to consider between the Afrofuturism of the 20th century and the Indigenous futurism of the 21st century is that digital technologies are facilitating the design of these futures. Recently, some initiatives for designing Indigenous futures from cyberspace have emerged to develop multiple visions of tomorrow for Indigenous peoples. However, most of those projects have remained in manipulating bits: virtual reality, mixed reality, and video games; few have experimented with their translation into atoms. We believe that the possibilities of the digital/bits and translation to materiality/atoms open for Afrofuturism and Indigenous futures the possibility of "being through design" (Fry, 2012). This design vision favors improvisation over innovation and looks for modes for becoming in the world, but it also is “bending the world” towards a changing purpose (Escobar, 2016). Our panel seeks expression and reflection on how the world has been designed and “bent” by Afrofuturims and Indigenous future expressions and practices in the XX and XXI centuries. For example, in traditional and digital arts, films, dance, festivals, and 3D printing of digital objects (Hui, 2017). We invite proposals that reflect on how design and art practices in Afrofuturims and Indigenous futures allow Afro-descendants and Indigenous peoples to be through design; either in analogical or digital expressions capable of contesting and inhabiting the changing landscapes of colonized and decolonized physical or digital territories. Some of the questions we aim to discuss in this panel are: What can the indigenous initiatives from the XXI century learn from the Afrofuturism initiatives of the XX century and vice versa? Are those futurism approaches utopias, or can they actually exist, and under which circumstances? Is there one or many Afrofuturism and Indigenous future initiatives? Do the Afrofuturims and indigenous future movements relate exclusively to the global north, or are they also present in the global south? We invite proposals exploring those and other related questions and approaches from different perspectives and modalities: traditional and digital arts, social movements, applied and theoretical anthropology.