Curatorial Statement

WakandaAAA embraces and explores futures beyond whiteness. Our influences draw from a wide range of positions including Afrofuturism, Indigenous futurism, and Ethno-futures; POC feminism, Queer theory, and Crip science. Down with heroes and their narratives. Up with genre-busting and serious play. 

Why call it Wakanda? We take Wakanda as a provocation. Wakanda is a fictional place originally invented as the home of the Marvel Comics character Black Panther by two white, Jewish men, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It offers up an alternate timeline, a past/present/future that decenters whiteness. This fictional realm has become a popular cultural icon for our moment, at times even acting as a shorthand for Afrofuturism, as a consequence of the 2018 film Black Panther. But in these official figurations, Wakanda isn’t flawless, or even a future that many people might actually want. Wakanda is depicted as a patriarchal monarchy financed by resource extraction and hoarding, protected by a high-tech, digital surveillance-security state.

Yet taken as a provocation, Wakanda urges “us” – non-innocent, non-obvious, and deeply political agents – to imagine better timelines beyond whiteness and centralized control of economies and technologies. “We” still have to do the work of responding to the provocation – organizing, creating, materializing, practicing in various ways. Wakanda University 2019 seeks contribute to this grand challenge by creating a space for refuge from the most harmful aspects of our current meatspace timeline and for imagining what comes next, and how to do it otherwise.

Ditching techno-utopia, how might technology–widely imagined–play a role in anthropologies yet to come? What new forms of knowledge production can be birthed through performative play? How can epistemologies and experiences beyond whiteness shape (academic) cultures yet-to-be?  Can anti-racist research and making materialize spaces, technologies, and experiences that are enlivened by principles of afrofuturism, indigeneity, intuition, and collective well-being?

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