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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Science Fiction: Afrofuturism

What is Afrofuturism?

"Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of history that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentrism, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of black people, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past. [The term was] first coined by Mark Dery in 1993, and explored in the late 1990s through conversations led by scholar Alondra Nelson. Afrofuturism addresses themes and concerns of the African diaspora through a technoculture and science fiction lens, encompassing a range of media and artists with a shared interest in envisioning black futures that stem from Afrodiasporic experiences. Seminal Afrofuturistic works include the novels of Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler; the canvases of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Angelbert Metoyer, and the photography of Renée Cox; the explicitly extraterrestrial mythoi of Parliament-Funkadelic, the Jonzun Crew, Warp 9, Deltron 3030, and Sun Ra; and the Marvel Comics character Black Panther."-Wikipedia 

-- Octavia Butler

Other Useful Sources

There are a lot of very useful sources you can use to research different aspects of African American life and works. Listed here are some that the UofI offers.

Some books on AfroFuturism

Afrofuturism In the News

The HuffPost published a guide on Afrofuturism in which curator Niama Safia Sandy shares some of her favorite writers, artists and musicians contributing to the Afrofuturist genre: Your Brief And Far-Out Guide To Afrofuturism


The New York Times ran a very interesting article on Afrofutursim elements seen in artist's portrayals of themselves. Check it out below!

Afrofuturism: The Next Generation


Sun Ra (a pioneering Afrofuturism bandleader) worked as an artist-in-residence at UC Berkeley and taught a semester. You can take a peek at the lecture here: Sun Ra’s Full Lecture & Reading List From His 1971 UC Berkeley Course, “The Black Man in the Cosmos”