This short-form essay by writer, researcher, and academic Ramon Amaro draws from multiple conceptions and realizations of Afrofuturism—in practice by the science fiction authors Octavia E. Butler and Samuel R. Delany, the musicians George Clinton and Sun Ra, the filmmakers Marlon Riggs and John Akomfrah, and in theory by theorists Alondra Nelson, Kodwo Eshun, and many others. It’s a quote from Delany in particular that Amaro points to in order to remind the reader that the “forceful and distinguishing aspects” of science fiction itself lie in its marginal nature. Amaro shows how, from this position in the margins, Afrofuturism might—or continue to—disrupt history’s role in preempting the future by celebrating the awkwardness and disjointedness of culture. As a speculative tool for questioning how the black body is conceptualized in relation to ecologies of culture, Afrofuturism offers a “simulated new beginning based on a mythical past of greatness.” Dwelling in the uncertainty and improbability of whether technology could offer a form of liberation for black bodies, Amaro insists upon the idea that black culture and life is about imagining the impossible, as Nelson puts it, “imagining a better place, a different world.”
Ramon Amaro is a lecturer in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London; visiting tutor in Media Theory at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK); and Senior Researcher in Digital Culture at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. Amaro is a design engineer by degree and researcher in the areas of machine learning, the philosophy of mathematics, black ontologies, and philosophies of being. Ramon’s work emerges at the level of enumerative logics to examine pathological organisations of the self that may inform the conditions of sentient and non-sentient sociality, as well as, he argues, the engineering of difference in socio-technical ecologies. Drawing on the work of Frantz Fanon, Sylvia Wynter and Gilbert Simondon, Ramon aims to open up new methodological considerations at the intersections of race, pathology, and empiricism, placing specific emphasis on speculative articulations in machine learning, data, mathematics, engineering and black study. Ramon completed his PhD in Philosophy in the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies (the former Centre for Cultural Studies) at Goldsmiths, while holding a Masters degree in Sociological Research from the University of Essex and a BSe in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.