Afrofuturism and decolonisation: using Black Panther as methodology

  • Danielle Becker Postdoctoral research fellow, Department of Visual Arts, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Keywords: Black Panther, Afrofuturism, decolonisation, African art, art history, curricula


The terms Afrofuturism and decolonisation may both occupy prominent positions in the contemporary moment but they are not often projected into the same conceptual space. While the task of decolonising the curricula at South Africa’s tertiary institutions looms large in the contemporary moment, for the particular disciplines of art history and visual studies, the task of creating new curricula has often taken on a temporal valence as there is a certain anxiety about making references to historical African culture in the present. Afrofuturism, however, seeks to create fissures in the present moment by using references the past to envision futures that counter a negative historical imaginary. Following an analysis of the art historical curricula at tertiary institutions in South Africa, this paper seeks to discuss the notion of both Afrofuturism and decolonisation as temporal dislocations and discursive disruptions. By looking at the film Black Panther and its numerous references to historical African art and visual culture this paper proposes that the concept of Afrofuturism may provide a method for the study of contemporary art forms through the lens of the  historical and as such a potential approach to discursive decolonisation.