Continental Afrofutures Lecture Series. Lecture 1: Laingian Science Fiction

The Showroom
63 Penfold Street
London NW8 8PQ

The Showroom and The Otolith Collective invite you to the first in the
Continental Afrofutures Lecture Series.

Saturday 27 February 2016, 2.00pm - 5.00pm
Free, no booking required


The Otolith Collective and The Showroom present Laingian Science Fiction, the first lecture in the Continental Afrofutures Lecture Series.

It is often pointed out that the Africanity in Afrofuturism takes no account of the invention or the production of African futures. That the Afrofuturisms formulated during the 1990s and resurgent in the 21st Century, were and are elaborated as Afrodiasporic projects by practitioners in the UK and the USA. The constraints of Afrofuturism, then and now, therefore obliges continental practitioners to either adapt the term to take account of the specificity of African futures or to invent a new concept capable of grasping the range of contemporary practices across the continent that seek to invent the future.

Implicit here is the suggestion that the common task of inventing African futures is a task that is still to be achieved. Such a mission, operative at different scales and different media, assumes that there has been little or no African futurisms, African speculations or African science fictions to date. It is this gap between continental and diasporic production, reinterpreted as a generational opportunity, that is now to be repaired and remedied by contemporary practitioners.

This argument, well intentioned as it is, inscribes a belatedness into continental cultural practices. It overlooks the practices already produced within and outside the continent that can indeed be grasped as inventions of the future. It is peculiarly deaf, blind and mute to the complexity of fictions, textual, sonic, political, philosophical, sculptural and painterly, already elaborated across the continent.

In the Continental Afrofutures Lectures, Kodwo Eshun argues that works that have and continue to invent the future already exist across the continent. Such works constitute a substantial genealogy of overlooked futurisms, futurities and speculations whose complexity constitutes a series of calculated interventions into the manufacture of the chronopolitical.

In six lectures, Eshun presents a series of close readings of these overlooked fictions, followed by discussion.

The Continental Afrofutures Lecture series begins with a lecture on novelist Kojo Laing's Major Gentl and the Achimota Wars. Published in 1992 and set in 2020, Laing's third novel Major Gentl and the Achimota Wars is an astonishing text that treats the novel as a subset of animation and literature as a subspecies of cartoon. Laing envisions a condition of total war known as the Second War of Existence in which insects, birds, fruit, animals, vegetables and the humans of Achimota City wage a war for the right to futurity against an overseas enemy only discernible through proxies and decoys.

The first lecture in the Continental Afrofutures Series takes place on Saturday 27 February from 2pm to 5pm at The Showroom.


Cover illustration by Keith Pointing with Celeste Henney.