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Black to the Future: queer Afro-feministist perspectives

A two-day conference with academics, authors, activists and filmmakers takes place Sep. 8-9 in Berlin

Scene photo from 'She' by director Ndimbira Claudine Shenge

Sep. 5, 2017 – Queer African life, past and present, is an ever expanding area of study, but what does the future look like? How will women* have transformed current colonial and patriarchal frameworks governing daily life? And how will those of us in the queer diaspora fare?

The two-day symposium (Re)imagining the Future poses these very questions. "The idea was mainly inspired by a vision of offering a space for Black feminist and queer activists with regard to their future," explains Mira, the event’s project coordinator. "We realized that Afrofeminist queer activists like Audre Lorde, bell hooks and Sylvia Tamale have immensely contributed to an analysis of the structurally violent past and present, but that the visions of the future are bare."

The conference opens Friday evening, very much in the present, with two queer film screenings at City Kino Wedding. Ndimbira Claudine Shenge’s coming-of-age film She depicts a young woman’s personal outing and its effects on familial relations in Rwanda. The short will be followed by Displaced: Black and Queer, a collaborative docufilm detailing queer life in the South-African context, a country where LGBTI* rights, enshrined in the constitution, are more often of a fragmentary, transposable nature. A Q&A with director Ncumisa Mdlokolo will follow the screening.

Saturday’s line-up shifts tense with panel and roundtable discussions outlining intersectional prospects for both the academy and activism. The panel "The Postcolonial (Dilemma) of LGBTIQ* African Activism" centers the voice and work of African female* activists and scholars – hailing from the continent and the diaspora – tasked with exploring future modes of gender, sexuality and cultural expression. A reading and networking space will also form part of the event at Neukölln’s Refugio share house.

"We can create a space for perspectives often either silenced by the enforcement of white norms as well as white racism, sexism, homo and transphobia, or by patriarchal structures within our communities," says Mira. "We hope that we can picture different visions of the future and have a conversation about the concrete changes needed in order to have a future in which Black women* are empowered."

As many grow bold in right-wing sentiment across the global north, perhaps an antidote lies in Afrofeminist imaginings of the southern kind.

Riri Hylton

Zukunft bestimmen: Afro-feministische_LGBTIQ* Perspektiven auf Bildung, Politik und Identität im Kontext globaler Ungleichheiten
Sep. 8-9, Refugio Berlin, Kino City Wedding

The conference is free. Please register via buero(at) The event will be held in English and German, with simultaneous translation possible.



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