The Kids Aren’t Alright: Afro-German Afrofuturism and the Fight for Futurity
Priscilla Layne, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
December 5, 2022 · 4:30 pm—6:00 pm · 205 East Pyne and Zoom
Drawing on theoretical models culled from Black (German) studies, Afrofuturism, performance studies and queer theory, in this talk I will analyze examples Black German artists’ engagement with “future-making” through fantasy and speculative and science fiction. From the “Afronauts” painting cycle (1999) of visual artist, Daniel Kojo Schrade, and the poetry of Philipp Khabo Köpsell, to the prose of Sharon Dodua Otoo and the plays and performances of Olivia Wenzel and Simone Dede Ayivi, Black German artists have increasingly employed Afrofuturist tropes in order to critique Eurocentricism, uncover German racism and confront German colonialism. For centuries, Black Germans’ existence has been inherently threatened by both ideological and repressive state apparati, in such forms as schooling, artistic representation, police and institutions. Through Afrofuturism, Black Germans create a future in which Black German life can not only survive but thrive. As such, many of these texts center children as a symbol of the future. But rather than using “the Child” as an oppressive prescription for heteronormativity, Black German Afrofuturism embraces Black Diasporic queer kinship and asserts that children are valued, not for their innocence from social discourses, but precisely because they will eventually become racially conscious and politically active Black German adults necessary for sustaining the community. Thus, Black German futurity is part of the communal activity of creating a Black German identity.