Promises of Uncertainty: A study of afrofuturistic interventions into the archive

Johan Lau Munkholm


The concept ‘Afrofuturism’ was a subversive offspring of an enthusiastic celebration of the Internet’s imagined potentiality in the 1990s in white tech-circles. It has since become a multifaceted and complex gathering of artistic expressions, political interventions and imaginative speculation in diasporic culture. In this article, it is especially explored as a temporal disruption of the official archives of history that organize and represent temporality in an ordered and rigid fashion for the benefit of the imperial powers that have historically subjugated the African Diaspora with consequences for the past and the future. The temporal revisionist practices akin to afrofuturistic epistemology are investigated through two figural prisms: The Data Thief from John Akomfrah’s film The Last Angel of History and jazz legend Sun Ra. These figures represent different yet overlapping examples of temporal rebellion against official history by upsetting historical linearity and creating futuristic paths of unknown virtuality. The temporal field that the Data Thief and Sun Ra open for exploratory enquiry is further explored through Walter Benjamin’s meditations on weak messianism and Jacques Derrida’s musings on the archive and spectrology.

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