The (Infra)Structural Limits and Utopian Horizons of Lagos_2060’s Africanfuturism

Hugh C. O'Connell

Abstract


This essay maps the relationship between two relatively nascent sf discourses – Africanfuturism and world-sf – in order to think about the notion of African futurity in relation to the contemporary global world-system. Taking Nnedi Okorafor’s definition as a starting point, it examines how Africanfuturism dovetails with what Mark Bould, following in the path of Warwick Research Collective, has recently argued for as a properly world-sf, whereby due ‘to sf’s global perspectives and its commitment to building coherent imaginary worlds, it frequently maps out, responds to, critiques, and/or champions the world-system.’ One way of forging this connection is through a focus on infrastructure. If infrastructure entails a number of overlapping valences with their own internal contradictions, then it also provides a key object for thinking the similar contradiction within sf world-building between the neoimperial implications of the developmentalism of the futures industry on one hand, and the postcolonial decentering of utopian sf world-building on the other. In order to concretize these ideas, the essay concentrates on sf coming out of Nigeria, since it is one of the most prominent sites of production and content for the post-millennial boom in African sf, and focuses particularly on the Ayodele Arigbabu-edited anthology Lagos_2060: Exciting Sci-Fi Stories from Nigeria (2013). Doing so, the essays argues, allows us to limn the neoliberal limits and utopian horizons embedded within Africanfuturist world-building.


Keywords


Africanfuturism; African Science Fiction; Utopianism; postcolonial science fiction; infrastructure; African Futures

Full Text:

PDF

References


Adama, O. (2018) ‘Urban Imaginaries: Funding Mega Infrastructure Projects in Lagos, Nigeria.’ GeoJournal, 83, pp. 257-274.

Anand, N., Gupta, A. and Appel, H. (2018) ‘Introduction: Temporality, Politics, and the Promise of Infrastructure.’ In Anand, N., Gupta, A. and Appel, H. (eds) The Promise of Infrastructure. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 1-40.

Banhg, A. (2018) Migrant Futures: Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times. Durham: Duke University Press.

Bould, M. (2013) ‘Introduction: Africa SF.’ In Bould, M. (ed) Africa SF, A Special issue of Paradoxa, 25, pp. 7-15.

Bould, M. (2017) ‘FROM world sf (VIA, IF WE MUST, World Sf) TO world-sf: AN INTRODUCTION.’ Fantastika Journal, 1(2), pp. 12-25.

Chude-Sokei, L. (2015) The Sound of Culture. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Eatough, M. (2017) ‘African Science Fiction and the Planning Imagination.’ Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, 4(2), pp. 237-257.

Eshun, K. (2003) ‘Further Considerations on Afrofuturism.’ CR: The New Centennial Review, 3(2), pp. 287-302.

Gandy, M. (2006) ‘Planning, Anti-planning and the Infrastructure Crisis Facing Metropolitan Lagos.’ Urban Studies, 43(2), pp. 371-396.

Goldstone, B. and Obarrio, J. (2016) ‘Introduction: Untimely Africa?’ In Goldstone, B. and Obarrio, J. (eds) African Futures: Essays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 1-19.

Guyer, J. (2007) ‘Prophecy and the Near Future: Thoughts on Macroeconomic, Evangelical, and Punctuated Time.’ American Ethnologist, 34(3), pp. 409-421.

Guyer, J. (2016) ‘Money in the Future of Africans.’ In Goldstone, B. and Obarrio, J. (eds) African Futures: Essays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 63-76.

Hartmann, I. W. (2012) ‘Introduction.’ In Hartmann, I. W. (ed) AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers. StoryTime, pp. 6-7.

Hopkinson, N. (2017) ‘Afrofuturism: Synecdoche is Not the Same as Solidarity.’ Patreon, 29 October 2017. [Online] [Accessed 3 December 2018] https://www.patreon.com/ posts/15110179

Howe, C., et al. (2015) ‘Paradoxical Infrastructures Ruins, Retrofit, and Risk.’ Science, Technology & Human Values, 41(3), pp. 547-565.

Jameson, F. (2005) Archaeologies of the Future. London: Verso.

Lagos_2060: Exciting Sci-Fi Stories from Nigeria (2013) Arigbabu, A. (ed). Lagos: Design and Dream Arts Enterprises.

Larkin, B. (2013) ‘The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure.’ Annual Review of Anthropology, 42, pp. 327-343.

Larkin, B. (2018) ‘Promising Forms: The Political Aesthetics of Infrastructure.’ In Anand, N., Gupta, A. and Appel, H. (eds) The Promise of Infrastructure. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 175-203.

Lukacs, M. (2014) “New, Privatized African City Heralds Climate Apartheid.” The Guardian, 21 January 2014. [Online] [Accessed 1 August 2021] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2014/jan/21/new-privatized-african-city-heralds-climate-apartheid

McHale, B. (2004) Postmodernist Fiction. New York: Routledge.

O’Connell, H. C. (2019) ‘Science Fiction and the Global South.’ In Link, C. and Canavan, G. (eds) The Cambridge History of Science Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 680-695.

Okorafor, N. (2019) ‘Africanfuturism Defined.’ 19 October 2019. [Accessed 3 July 2020] http://nnedi.blogspot.com/2019/10/africanfuturism-defined.html

Rieder, J. (2018) ‘Colonial Ignorance and World Construction: on Albert Wendt’s Black Rainbow and The Adventures of Vela.’ JFA: Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, 29(3), pp. 336-354.

Roitman, J. (2016) ‘Africa Otherwise.’ In Goldstone, B. and Obarrio, J. (eds) African Futures: Essays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 23-38.

Smith, E. D. (2012) Globalization, Utopia, and Postcolonial Science Fiction: New Maps of Hope. London: Palgrave.

Star, S. L. (1999) ‘The Ethnography of Infrastructure.’ American Behavioral Scientist, 43(3), pp. 377-391.

Tsika, N. (2013) ‘Projected Nigerias: Kajola and its Contexts.’ In Bould, M. (ed) Africa SF, A Special issue of Paradoxa, 25, pp. 89-112.

Warwick Research Collective (2015) World Literature in the Context of Combined and Uneven Development. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Williams, E. C. (2010) Combined and Uneven Apocalypse: Luciferian Marxism. London: Zero Books.

Xiao, A. H. (2021) ‘Becoming. . . in Lagos: A Time-Narration Approach to City-Identification in an African Metropolis.’ Urban Geography, 42(10), pp. 1480-1499.


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2022 Hugh C. O'Connell