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28 January 2021
Performing futures in the African diaspora: Time, ritual, ceremony
This special issue will explore Afro-diasporic performance practices as a major philosophical site for ‘future-thinking’ around Black lives in the contemporary moment. It will shed light on a form of ‘future-thinking’ in the African diaspora that foregrounds the idea of ‘duties to the dead’. This kind of ‘future-thinking’ is commensurate with a relationship to the dead that emphasizes memory’s presentness in embodied realities and presents History as an embodied archive.
Major trends in contemporary Afro-diasporic embodied performance foreground this view of temporality through their reconfiguration of familiar forms of public self-narrative, including the museum, the built environment, the public space, historical archives, and the theatrical stage.
In focusing on the triangulation of memory, performance and the future from the point of view of cyclical embodied energies based on Afro-derived ontologies, this special issue proposes embodied performance as one axis through which the issue of ‘Afro-futures’ can be thought. Accordingly, it is attempting to answer the question: How do duties to the dead, and the sense of the future as a connection with the dead, constitute a paradigm of durational time (physicalised by Black performance energies) that can ostensibly breach Western narratives of History, Justice and Humanism and thereby impose new ways of how Black bodies can occupy space?
The special issues therefore examines the question of the future in the African diaspora through the lens of embodied performance and Africanist epistemologies of temporality. It seeks to innovatively bring together memory, performance studies, and philosophy in looking at the meanings of contemporary African diaspora political interventions through performance.
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