The sub-project "Concepts of Future in Mediaspaces of Africa and its Diasporas" is dedicated to conceptualizations of 'future' in the intersecting trans-spaces of the internet, fiction, and Africa/n diasporas. In doing so, literary studies are mobilized as transcultural and transmedial "Lebenswissenschaft" (Ottmar Ette).


Diasporas constitute societal spaces performing thereby entangled (hi)stories, generating transcultural futures, and promising creative solutions for global challenges. Diasporas transgress borders between languages and ‘nations’ just as much as fiction transgresses conventional boundaries of genres and media: fiction, we believe, does not exist in a vacuum; rather, it negotiates constellations of knowledge, power and visions polyphonously, affirming and/or subverting and re-inscribing them in the process. The internet has become another 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 networks and forums (to name only the most obvious) are mediaspaces informed by geopolitical power constellations that nonetheless offer scopes of intellectual and aesthetic mobility for transgressions against power. Here, a poetics arises that (re)invents itself for the future, coping with history and negotiating the present.

Methodology and theory

Confronted with transmedial and transcultural fictions, literary studies must, to a degree, reinvent itself and resituate its structures, concepts and agendas. The research conducted in this subproject relies on the team’s collective expertise in African and African-diasporic, English and Anglophone, as well as German and Romance literatures. At the same time, conventional categories such as ‘national literatures’ and ‘one-language-one-nation-only’ frames of literary studies are transgressed. As a result, the sub-project understands itself as (?)transcultural literary studies, relying on postcolonial theory and critical whiteness studies, diaspora studies, gender and sexuality studies, as well as 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, African science fiction, and African-diasporic Net-Art?

3. How have Afrofuturism, African SF and African-diasporic Net-Art intervened and generated socially effective (alternative) visions of histories? (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? What specific potentials of the medium are realized, in Africa and the African diaspora, 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 aesthetic visions of 'future' articulated on the web, influence political activism in 'real-world' (local) settings? How are these effects realized, especially in urban agglomerations understood as contact spaces between Africa-/Europe/Northern America/Asia, and Africa/Diaspora(s)?

6. Different web formats (blogs, artists' websites, publications in social forums, 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 (and related institutions such as publishers, booksellers, literary cafés, academia, etc.). Insomuch as web-based aesthetic production presents itself as polyphonic genre-crossing, prose and spoken-word performances are compared with genres such as 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 studies in motion' (Ottmar Ette), contribute to the formation of new paradigms and mappings, and thus result in the advancement of both literature and literary studies?