Black Lives, Black Politics, Black Futures

Guest Editors:
tobias c. van Veen (California State University, Northridge)
Reynaldo Anderson (Harris-Stowe State University)

TOPIA 39 | Spring 2018

Deadline for proposals: October 15, 2016

This special issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies seeks contributions (articles, offerings, review essays and book reviews) that address the intersection of Black Lives, Black Politics, and Black Futures.

Across Canada and the United States, a resurgence of black radical protest has highlighted what African Americans, but also African Canadians, have known for some time: that police brutality, racial profiling, and state violence are deeply rooted in local practices of structural racism and white supremacy. In response to structural conditions of anti-black violence, organizations such as #BlackLivesMatter have emerged to combat endemic racism as it intersects local sites and struggles, emphasizing marginalized, queer, trans* and disabled subject-positions as a “tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement”.

At the same time that #BlackLivesMatter has focused on the marginalized intersectionality of resistant black bodies, a parallel but intersecting radical black praxis has emerged across the Afrodiaspora that likewise mobilizes the transformative potential of blackness: Afrofuturism and the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM).

Afrofuturism names black science fictional, futurist, and speculative arts that challenge the structural exclusion of blackness from white futures by imagining alternate timelines and otherworldly topias for blackness. In particular, Afrofuturism emphasizes radical black ontology, and the transformative force of performative black becomings that put into play epistemological, ontological, cultural, and political forces. Key to Afrofuturism is the radical intersectionality of (alien) gender-bending and trans* embodiments that have become central to movements such as #BlackLivesMatter.

Scholars of Afrofuturism have theorized how performers such as Grace Jones, Sun Ra, Dr. Octagon, and Janelle Monáe have crafted radical black ontologies that reassemble and reinvent black life. Likewise, black science fiction writers such as Samuel R. Delany, Nalo Hopkinson, and Octavia Butler have crafted an imaginative milieu of otherworldly ontologies, cultures, and black political u-topias that elaborate sites of resistance, transformation, and exodus.

This special issue seeks not just to address the future of radical black politics, but how its future intersects that of black futurism in the creative reinvention, representation, and radical becoming of black lives. This issue situates itself at the intersection of Afrofuturism, the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM) and the resurgence of black radical politics, including but not limited to BlackLivesMatter. Just as no study of the Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movement would be complete without an understanding of their respective productive, technological, and artistic forces, this special issue of TOPIA focuses upon critical and speculative scholarship at the intersection, and future(s), of black radical politics, black speculative arts, black futurism, and black “artivism” — in which activism and art merge as much as they transform.

In particular, this issue looks to the interplay of black speculative art, futurism, and activism as it intersects black bodies, media and texts, spaces, sounds and science. We welcome perspectives that address how radical blackness transforms — and is transformed by — speculative, inventive, and performative strategies that challenge structural conditions of oppression. This issue is interested in how such black speculative approaches intersect with black posthumanism, futurism, and radical black becomings, particularly in the articulation of black u-topias, chronopolitics, and science fictional imaginaries. This issue is likewise interested in black speculative pedagogy, particularly in Science Technology Arts Engineering and Mathematics fields (STEAM).

This issue welcomes critical, speculative, historical, and intersectional approaches to the black radical imaginaries, practices, and cultures of Afrofuturism, Afrosurrealism, Africentrism, black Atlantic futurism, radical black ontology, black science fiction, STEAM, and the black speculative arts, insofar as such movements engage the critical, (de)constructive, imaginative, and resistant efforts of radical black politics.

Possible topics for this special issue might include:

• Afrofuturism, AfroSurrealism, Africentrism: Manifestos, Movements, Aesthetics

• Affects of Afrofuturism: Body Politics of Radical Becoming and Ontogenesis

• Afrofuturism and its ethnofuturist intersections: Afrofuturisma, Arab, Sino, Indigenous Futurism

• Ethnographies of Afrofuturism: black cosplayers, blerds, emcees, dancers, coders, scientists

• Intersectional black bodies: queer, trans*, and disabled approaches to art, politics, and activism

• Radical black ontology, the black fantastic, and radical black becomings

• Black posthumanism: body politics, debates, critiques, and developments

• Black transhumanism: the politics of future engineering and race

• “In the break” of radical black aesthetics: new griots, emcees, and the politics of entertainment

• The politics and remix cultures of science fictional sampling, hip-hop, techno, graffiti, and collage

• Black women, black feminism, black magic: Béyonce and Lemonade

• #BLM-TO, Pride politics and protest, and the Canadian media

• #BlackLivesMatter, black hashtag activism, and Canadian/US histories of black activism

• Black hacktivism, Anonymous, and transborder technologies of protest

• Digital blackness, black social media, and the Afrodiasporic politics of black Twitter

• Blackness and radical black approaches in the digital humanities

• Black artivism and activism in/between Canada and the United States

• Radical black pedagogy, technology, and epistemology in STEAM fields

• The futures of Afrodiasporic and African science/speculative fiction, horror, goth, and poetry

• Black electronic music: Detroit techno, Chicago house, UK jungle/dubstep, Jamaican dub/dancehall, South African Shangaan Shake…

• Black NASA, Star Trek, and Star Wars: science fiction and fact in black space

• Futuresonic blackness: outerspace jazz, offworld hip-hop, intergalactic funk, spaced-out (neo)soul

• Histories and futures of the Black Arts Movement (BAM), the Black Arts Repertory Theater (BART), and the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM)

— Submissions —

Please email a 500 word paper proposal and short biographical note to <> with the subject line “TOPIA submission.”

Deadline for proposals is October 15th, 2016.
Articles will be due March 1st, 2017.

Please send comments and queries to special issue editors tobias c. van Veen and Reynaldo Anderson at <>.
TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies |

Contact Info: 

Please send comments and queries to special issue editors tobias c. van Veen and Reynaldo Anderson at <>.

TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies |

Contact Email: