Abstract Deadline: May 1 2013 – Paper Deadline: September 1 2013 – Approx. Length: 5000 words
AfroFutures / African Design is the first book-‐length introduction to Design Ideas from Africa. Conceived for tertiary study devoted to Africa’s aesthetic, social, and cultural concerns, AfroFutures positions itself within worlds both analogue and digital, cultures “raw” and “cooked;” worlds understood heterochronically, in which time folds and futurity comprises the past and present. No final direction or prognosis is provided, though a sentient instinct for change-for‐the-good defines the project. Contributors are invited to think the matter of Africa and Design as freshly and as engagingly as possible.
A prevailing view of Africa is as a continent of parasites or dependents, so thoroughly underdeveloped by colonization and its global imperial aftermath that it has proved incapable of innovation, transformation, and sustained productive development. In thinking against the grain of prejudice, in proactively foregrounding innovation and sustainable and productive design, this edited volume on African Design asks its contributors to generate challenging and inspiring Afro-futuristic positions.
By no means do we assume the idea of Africa to be seamless and timeless, nor do we expect Africa to be conceived holistically as a coherent geographical mass. As Simon Njami recognized, a “remix” is required, the better to reconfigure “the schizophrenic reality of this continent.”
How in a conflicted history do African aesthetes, thinkers, designers position themselves? Given yet another key global shape-shift towards South-South and East-South relations, how can Africa reposition its cultural capital? Further, given the criticality of the earth’s survival, how can Africa, a continent which has survived innumerable extreme conditions, lead the way in addressing hunger, austerity, liminality, global uncertainty?
The questions we expect thinkers on design to ask are: What is Africa? What does contemporaneity represent within this geographical entity? How is it defined? Further, it is expected that design will be reconfigured in the most unbridled and a‐categorical manner, with a view to freeing the designation from the seductive fetish of the object and, after Nicholas Bourriaud, producing a “relational aesthetics” which foregrounds the connections between things, communities, and services. To what extent does design – as an action – redefine aesthetic, epistemological, phenomenological and/or other readings of the continent?
Jean Hubert Martin provocatively states, “the West killed God to enter the modern age, Africans have too many gods – it is pointless to try and kill them all.” What does one make of the polymorphous reality of this continent? How does one design for a continent adept at improvisation? The “African Remix” envisioned here crosses disciplines, cultures, categories, hegemonies, to announce a “free zone” defined by social commitment, innovation, and ethics.
Can design out of Africa generate a new humanism – a new idea of being human - which can have a global impact?
The selected papers are inspired by the visually elegant and semantically rich indigenous Adinkra symbols from West Africa, and themed accordingly. We suggest that contributors use one or more symbols as inspiration. For a comprehensive listing of Adinkra symbols and their elaborated meaning, visit http://www.adinkra.org/htmls/adinkra_index.htm. Additionally, should contributors wish to use images, they are advised to use high resolution black and white ones for ease of reproduction.
Contact: Ashraf Jamal firstname.lastname@example.org or Mugendi M’Rithaa MugendiM@gmail.com Faculty of Informatics & Design, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town.
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