Collage by Khan Nova

Afrofuturism: looking at the world from an Afrocentric point of view

Torus
Torus
Jun 3 · 7 min read

By Victor Hugo Barreto
With contributions by
Sarah Brito and Rodrigo Turra;
Editor and preface by
Gustavo Nogueira (Gust).

Leia aqui em Português

Sandglass is part of our ongoing program of time studies. The social infrastructure of affection in which TORUS weekly invites a specialist to share knowledge about their vision of the time around us, for about an hour. As the sand grains of our hourglass run, we strengthen our network, narrow relationships, and experience, in a safe space of exchange.

Our first guest was Morena Mariah. Morena, besides being a media and communication strategist, works in social projects and actively participates in the production of content aimed at the debate of the racial question, mainly in the conception of Afrofuturism.

We had already sensed that there was synchrony between our ideas and ideals in favor of a more empathic, open and plural perspectives. In the best use of our memory of the past as well as of our future projections for transformations in the fabric of reality here in the present. And, with this meeting, we officialized the partnership that makes Afrofuturo an initiative that is an integral part of Torus. Enjoy the reading.

Gustavo Nogueira (Gust)⏳❤️

Sandglass ⧖ Torus : Afrofuturism with Morena Mariah

Afrofuturism allows for the possibility of experiencing a different time perception. A “de-centering” lens. By proposing a shift of perspective crossed by race, that is, by proposing to look at the world from an Afrocentric point of view, it provides us with a lens of a hitherto invisible past, to understand the issues of the present and for possible futures.

“In a dialogue with a metaphor by the Brazilian intellectual Hamilton Borges: one has to choose to look at historical events from inside the caravel or with his foot firmly on the ground. The afro-perspective is when we leave the caravel and our gaze goes to the ground, to observe who is arriving. Realizing that before this caravel arrived, the is another story: what came before this colonial process, what it impacted and what are the possible answers. What kinds of activity, engagement or action are important in this historical moment now for this future to be different. “

With which lens will you look at history?

Afrofuturism was a concept created in the 1960s in the United States and was only resumed as a movement in the 1990s, crossing the most different scientific and social areas: philosophical, aesthetic, historical, among others. The thinkers and creators of Afrofuturism seek to establish a critique of history that has always been told to all of us. That is a history that took the hegemonic white view as central. For this, they interrogate, reexamine and provoke from an Afrocentric place and of a population that underwent continuous diasporas.

Afrofuturism: the connection between African ancestry and futurism

African Renaissance

Although Afrofuturism has reached a larger audience from its production and aesthetic influence (the success achieved with the film “Black Panther” full of Afro-Futurist references is perhaps the greatest example of this), our learning at this meeting also encompassed a greater power than the movement allows.

Black Panther (2018)

The Afrofuturism perspective allows a unique view of the time and its power of transformation. Not only because it points to a new look at the past and its effects in the present, but also because it does so in the construction of a discourse and a future-oriented aesthetic, in a dialogue crossed with technology and science fiction. As Morena affirms, it is a movement of the “African Renaissance”.

Morena Mariah

“The Afrofuturism that I claim, which has a great power, is not only a political, philosophical, cultural vision, an aesthetic or artistic movement, but it is a vision of the world: to see itself as black people and to understand the state of affairs in which people are inserted and how they got here. That is, to know the past and how it has brought us to the moment that we are.”

Activations of Black Empowerment

Afrocentrism

In our meeting, Morena warned how much the process of contact with Afrocentric thought is painful and liberating at the same time, since it involves a dive in itself and in the roots of its history, a trip of self-knowledge with therapeutic and empowering force. Understanding the racial issue, the importance of an anti-racist stance, the research effort, and practically ethnographic knowledge about what is to be part of a diasporic population.

The quest for references to a story that has been and continues to be constantly invisible has an almost archaeological character. It takes a cultural dig for this story, these other narratives to surface. At the same time, it allows experimentation of methodologies, since it is a field still under construction. We also commented on the “Other Brazils” project, which seeks to map and rescue the diversity in the country beyond the axis of the great capitals.

For Mariah, the greatest learning in relation to Afrofuturism lies in its educational potency and in the modification of the lives of both Black African and non-Black people, from the antidote to cultural blindness:

“Afrofuturo is essentially an education project. It’s education because even if I want to create entertainment content, the purpose of this content is to educate people. And educating both Black Africans and people of other ethnicities, because I realized that the problem of people not knowing the contribution and the black-African legacy in the world impacts the lives of black people, but also the culture, life and the daily lives of people in general. This cultural blindness is even worse for non-black people. From this blindness, we get sick as an individual, but also collectively.”

Afrofuturist fiction: on the left, the American Octavia Butler; in the center, the carioca Fabio Kabral; and to the right, also the carioca Lu Ain-Zalia.

Afropperspective

The fronts within the Afrofuturo project developed by Morena include three fields of action:

First field: educational activity. Open a field of possibilities with a strong dialogue in educational activities and incursions either inside or outside schools, but also in organizations and and in corporate education. This proposal brings the challenge of being able to dialogue with completely different audiences but maintaining a unique perspective.

Second field: creative curatorship. Curation of references from the afro-perspective that proposes a shift of the look on the world around us, the culture and the historical position that we occupy, from the African values.

Third field: entertainment. The production of content itself in the networks and in several platforms of communication that value, question, provoke or even feed the debate from the afro-perspective.

In this exchange of learnings, the goal of our Sandglass, we highlight this common purpose between Torus and Afrofuturo to create educational activities for people, brands/companies and organizations. To propose tools for the acceleration of transformations in the world. As well as the importance of an integral perspective of time. Morena points out to us how this temporal vision also goes through a look at the racial issue, which is continually neglected.

Victor Hugo Barreto / English version Sarah Brito


Participants (from left to right, from top to bottom): Victor Hugo Barreto, Gustavo Nogueira, Rodrigo Turra, Sarah Brito e Morena Mariah.

See more Sandglass learnings here:

We are the TORUS, a global movement based in São Paulo and Amsterdam, which promotes changes in organisational cultures, as well as a cultural awakening in society.

We develop experimental and proprietary methodologies based on translating and sharing relevant knowledge about the transformations necessary for our time.

Together with a network of partners and experts around the world, we invest in original studies and the building of a safe space for learning and exchanging as social infrastructures necessary to the world today.

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Estudos do Tempo (Time Studies)

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Estudos do Tempo (Time Studies)

Torus

Torus

Estudos do Tempo (Time Studies)