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Afrofuturism & Black Speculative Fiction

This guide is to assist research on Afrofuturism and Black Speculative Fiction

What is Afrofuturism?

Afrofuturism is an aesthetic and literary movement that focuses on the intersection of Black history, culture, science fiction, and technology. the term was coined by white journalist Mark Dery in is 1994 article "Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate and Tricia Rose". Dery states that Afrofuturism is "...speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of twentieth-century technoculture-and, more generally, African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future".

Speculative fiction is a genre that includes elements from science fiction, horror, fantasy, and horror fiction to explore worlds unlike our own. Afrofuturism is unique as it explores the experience of the African Diaspora (specifically the African-American experience), critiquing present day social issues in the black community but also reexamining the past and reinventing the future. Technology, Afrocentricity, Afrodiasporic cosmology and spirituality are commonly used within works in this genre to examine Black culture and the African Diaspora through a non-western and non-white lens.

Africanfuturism is a similar but separate aesthetic and philosophy. The term was coined by Nigerian American writer Nnedi Okorafor. It is directly focused on the African continent and firmly rooted in African history, culture, mysticism, and philosophy. It explores African culture through science fiction without the "...othering of the white gaze and the de facto colonial Western mindset" (Afrofuturism, Africanfuturism, and the Language of Black Speculative Literature, 2020) . 


Afrofuturism, Africanfuturism, and the language of Black speculative literature. (2020, August 27). Los Angeles Review of Books.

Elements of Afrofuturism


  • Black Culture
    • The music, religion, communication style and customs of the African and African American Diaspora. 
  • Characters
    • Characters in Afrofuturist works are members of the African and African American Diaspora that explore the universe, create complex technology, and protest oppressive governments.
  • Speculative Fiction
    • ​​​​​​​Speculative fiction is a broad genre that explores fictional worlds using supernatural or science fiction elements. 
  • Social Justice
    • ​​​​​​​The fair treatment and equitable status of all individuals and social groups within a society.
  • Feminism
    • ​​​​​​​Afrofuturism allows Black women to explore the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality and examine how Black female bodies are represented and treated in popular media. 
  • Alienation
    • ​​​​​​​Afrofuturism reexamines the alien status Black people in the past and present, analyzing the alienation caused by the Middle Passage and further observing Black people within and outside of the dominant cultural narrative. 
  • Reclamation
    • ​​​​​​​Afrofuturism is focused on reclaiming agency to tell stories of identities and perspectives that have been lost.