Alondra Nelson's notion of "past-future visions" has been an especially useful afrofuturist concept for thinking about about how artists engage historical and speculative narratives.
Nelson mentions the phrase in passing in her article "AfroFuturism: Past-Future Visions," as she describes black artists "whose creations reflect the long and impressive history of African diasporic culture also push the envelope of these traditions. They garner text, sound, and image in the service of reimagining black life." She notes that the artists "create reflections on the African diasporic past and renderings of our possible futures." Overall what they create are "past-future visions."
For some of our black studies projects, we have used the idea of "past-future visions" to identify black artists who look back and reimagine the past. We have also used the phrase to highlight instances in history when black artists were especially forward-looking or interested in engaging and composing speculative narratives or works about the future.
28 Ways of Thinking about Black Studies & Afrofuturism
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