Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies / Sub-Projects / • Concepts of Future in MediaSpaces

Concepts of Future in Mediaspaces of Africa and its Diasporas

Our sub-project is dedicated to fictional conceptualisations of the future in the intersection and overlapping of internet, imagination and Africa and its diasporas.

In doing so, literary and media studies are mobilized as (trans)cultural »life science« (Ottmar Ette). Consequently, fiction, diaspora and internet are approached as spaces with entangled histories that generate entangled futures, which promise creative solutions for global challenges. It is our aim to identify the effects of conceptualisations of the future on global archives of knowledge, transcultural dialogicity and translocal conceptualisations of futures in Europe, Africa and the U.S. In doing so, the relationship between future and technology in general and future and the internet in particular is the core subject of this research project.


»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, poetics arises that (re)invents itself for the future, coping with history and negotiating the present.


This research project focusses on (fictional) knowledge about future, pursuing comparative analyses of various and intersecting media, genres and regions in synchronic and diachronic perspectives:

1) Which visions and projections of the future are negotiated in African and African -diasporic fictional texts, how is history remembered into the future in them – and with which implications?

2) How do these African and African-diasporic fictional texts represent and use technology in general and the internet in particular?

3) Which visions and projections of »future« – with particular reference to Africa and its diasporas, Europe, and the USA – are negotiated in fiction, above all in Afrofuturism, Africanist science fiction and Africandiasporic Net-Art?

4) How have Afrofuturism, Africanist SF and African-diasporic Net-Art intervened and generated visions of  histories that are remembered into »futures«? (How) do they influence conceptualizations of the future and intervene in contemporary processes? What are the implications of such interventions?

5) 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 ?

6) How do various genres interact in the internet, how are their stakeholders and/or agencies cross-linked on 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?

7) (How) can research on new literary representations of future (e.g. »Afrofuturism«, SF , Africandiasporic 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?

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 literature and film, English and German studies as well as cultural and Media Studies. Yet, conventional pigeonholes such as national literatures and one-language-one-nation-only frames of literary studies as well as static genre-distinctions between literature here and (new) media there are likewise transgressed. As a result, the project undertakes transcultural Literary studies, relying on postcolonial theory and critical whiteness studies, diaspora studies, gender, sexuality studies, and queer studies. More...

Sub-project Flyer to download here