Keynote Speakers

Phoebe Boswell

Phoebe Boswell (b. 1982, Kenya). Underpinned by a transient and diasporic consciousness, Phoebe Boswell’s practice speaks from the porous space between here and there. She works intuitively across media, centering drawing but spanning animation, sound, video, writing, interactivity, performance and chorality. This tends to culminate in layered installations, which affect and are affected by the environments they occupy, by time, the serendipity of loops, and the presence of the audience. Aesthetics of figuration and representation through the radical imaginary of Black feminisms become tools for contemplating the body as world, worldmaking, rather than merely as object to be gazed at. Artmaking becomes a political act of service to community, where labour-intensive drawing practices, immersive technologies, and calls for collective participation denote a commitment of care for how we see ourselves and each other; how we grieve, how we love, how we rest, how we heal, how we protest, how we remember the past in order to imagine the future.

Boswell (Kenya/UK) currently lives/works in London, and her work has been exhibited globally, including Autograph; Tiwani Contemporary; Sundance Film Festivals, Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art 2015, and Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement 2016. She received the Future Generation Art Prize's Special Prize in 2017 and recently unveiled a large-scale public moving image work 'PLATFORM' as part of the Fonds cantonal d'art contemporain in Geneva. Boswell was the Bridget Riley Drawing Fellow at the British School of Rome in 2019, is a current recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists, a Ford Foundation Fellow, will this year present newly commissioned works at Prospect P5 in New Orleans and Hache Noce in Oaxaca, and has solo exhibitions at New Art Exchange, Nottingham and Sapar Contemporary, New York both opening in May (according to Covid-19 guidelines).  

Isolde Brielmaier

Isolde Brielmaier is the newly appointed Deputy Director of the New Museum as  well as Curator-at-Large at the International Center for Photography (ICP) in  NYC. Previously, Isolde served for six years as Executive Director and Curator  of Arts, Culture & Community at Westfield World Trade Center, a role in which  she developed artist projects and installations, cultural events, strategic and  community partnerships across the organization. Isolde is also Professor of  Critical Studies in Tisch's Department of Photography, Imaging and Emerging  Media at New York University. She serves as Editor at Large at Air Mail,  Graydon Carter’s new media venture along with several other art journals and  speaks regularly on topics related to art, culture and social impact. 

Throughout her curatorial career, Isolde has collaborated with noted  contemporary artists including Carrie Mae Weems, Ellen Gallagher, Leonardo  Drew, Richard Mosse, Ivan Navarro, Wangechi Mutu, Bill Viola, Hugo  McCloud, Fred Wilson, Tyler Mitchell, and Bharti Kher, to name a few. She has  written extensively on contemporary art and culture, including several  exhibition catalogues, journal articles as well as artist monographs. Her most  recent book, Culture as Catalyst was released Fall 2020 and her forthcoming  photography book, I am Sparkling, will be released in Spring 2022. Isolde has  developed and contributed to contemporary art and culture programs and  platforms for a broad range of organizations including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Peninsula Hotel Group, Valentino, LifeWater, COACH, Richard Meier  Architects | SDS Procida, Versace, Moet Hennessy USA, Wilfredo Rosado,  Gucci, New York magazine, the Prospect New Orleans biennial as well as the  Armory Show/VOLTA NY, CIRCA, Puerto Rico, and ARCO Contemporary Art  Fair in Madrid, Spain, among others. 

Isolde has been profiled and featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street  Journal, Elle, Vogue, Modern Luxury, WNYC Radio, CNN, the Washington Post,  Galerie Magazine, Cultured, and Whitewall among others.  

Previously, Isolde has worked for the Guggenheim Museum, the Bronx Museum  of Art, and as Chief Curator for the SCAD Museum of Art. She is deeply  committed to the promotion of social justice and human rights, specifically  global women’s issues and criminal justice reform and serves on the board of  the Women’s Prison Association (WPA) as well as an advisor to Malaika, an all girls school in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Isolde holds a PhD from  Columbia University and lives in New York City.

Credit Ari Marcopoulos

nora chipaumire

nora chipaumire was born in 1965 in what was then known as Umtali, Rhodesia (now Mutare, Zimbabwe). She is a product of colonial education for black native Africans - known as group B schooling - and has pursued other studies at the University of Zimbabwe (law) and at Mills College in Oakland, CA (dance).

Dr. Eve L. Ewing

Dr. Eve L. Ewing is a sociologist of education and a writer from Chicago. She is the author, most recently, of a book for young readers Maya and the Robot, the poetry collection 1919 and the nonfiction work Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side. Her first book, the poetry collection Electric Arches, received awards from the American Library Association and the Poetry Society of America and was named one of the year's best books by NPR and the Chicago Tribune. She is the co-author (with Nate Marshall) of the play No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. She also currently writes the Champions series for Marvel Comics and previously wrote the acclaimed Ironheart series, as well as other projects. Ewing is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and many other venues. Currently she is working on her next book, Original Sins: The (Mis)education of Black and Native Children and the Construction of American Racism, which will be published by One World. 

Vernon Reid

London-born American guitarist, founder of Living Colour and a co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition, Vernon Reid has done a great deal to undermine stereotypical expectations of what kinds of music Black artists ought to play; his rampant eclecticism encompasses everything from hard rock and punk to funk, R&B and avant-garde jazz, and his anarchic, lightning-fast solos have become a hallmark. In 1980, he joined Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society, and over the course of the decade, Reid went on to work with a wide variety of experimental musicians including Defunkt, Bill Frisell, John Zorn, Arto Lindsay, and Public Enemy. Vernon has also composed for noted film-makers Charles Stone 3rd, Shola Lynch, Gabri Christa, Brad Lichtenstein, Kasi Lemmons, Laurence Fishburn, & Thomas Allan Harris.

Credit: Melanie Dunea

Kevin Young

Kevin Young is the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Young is best known as a poet, author, essayist and editor. He has written 11 books of poetry, two works of nonfiction and is the editor of 10 other works, including African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song published in October 2020. In 2016, he became the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research division of the New York Public Library, and he is also currently the poetry editor at The New Yorker magazine. Founded in 1925 and named a national historic landmark, the Schomburg Center is a focal point of Harlem’s cultural life with extensive collections of art and artifacts, reference works, rare books and archives, photography and recordings.

Before joining the Schomburg Center, Young was the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing and English at Emory University in Atlanta where he taught for 11 years. He also was the curator of Emory’s Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, a 75,000-volume collection of rare and modern poetry, and curator of literary collections. He has produced a wide range of poetry and cultural criticism, including two non-fiction books, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News (Graywolf Press, 2017), longlisted for the National Book Award, and The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (Graywolf Press, 2012), which won the PEN Open Book Award and was named a New York Times Notable Book.

Panelists

Emanuel Admassu

Emanuel Admassu is an Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP and a founding partner, with Jen Wood, of AD—WO, an art and architecture practice based in New York City, and by extension, between Melbourne and Addis Ababa. He is also a co-founding board member of the Black Reconstruction Collective. His art, design, and teaching practices operate at the intersection of design theory, spatial justice, and contemporary African art. The work meditates on the international constellation of Afrodiasporic spaces. Most recently, he has been analyzing the socio-spatial identities of two urban marketplaces: Kariakoo in Dar es Salaam and Merkato in Addis Ababa. Admassu has previously taught at RISD Architecture and Harvard GSD. AD—WO’s work was featured in the exhibition Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America at the Museum of Modern Art. Their installation focuses on the immeasurability of Black spatial practices in Atlanta and the Atlantic.

Dr. Timiebi Aganaba

Timiebi is an assistant professor of Space and Society, in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society with a courtesy appointment at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, USA. Timiebi was a post-doctoral fellow and is a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) Canada.   Timiebi was Executive Director of the World Space Week Association coordinating the global response to the UN 1999 declaration that World Space Week should be celebrated Oct 4-10 annually. She is currently on the Advisory Board for the Space Generation Advisory Council and is also on the Science Advisory Board of World View Enterprises and the SETI Institute.  She was space industry consultant for the leading space analyst firm in Montreal, Canada where Timiebi led a pipeline of commercialization studies for the Canadian Space Agency and led the socio aspects of a socioeconomic assessment of the Canadian space sector.  She was also a teaching associate (France, 2008) and associate chair (Ireland, 2017) of the space policy, law and economics department at the International Space University, and an associate at Kayode Sofola and Associates law firm. She was a trainee in the legal affairs and international cooperation department at the Nigerian Space Agency,  and has represented Nigeria at the UN as a Next Generation Aviation Professional at the International Civil Aviation Organization Model Council in Montreal (2014) and at the Legal Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer space in Vienna (2011).

Claudia Alick

Claudia Alick is a performer, producer, writer, and inclusion expert. Alick has served as the founding Artistic Director of Smokin' Word Productions, is a NY Neofuturist alum, and the Oakland Poetry Slam Team.  She is former Community Producer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where she produced events such "The Green Show", The Daedalus Project, and producing/directing audio-plays such as the Grammy nominated "Hamlet". She manages content with The Crew Revolution black female leadership, serves as Co-president of the board of Network of Ensemble Theater, and the board of NW Arts Streaming Hub, collaborates with the Unsettling Dramaturgy (crip and indigenous international digital colloquium) and Howlround advisory council. Claudia serves as founding executive producer of the transmedia social justice company CALLING UP whose projects include Producing in Pandemic, The Every 28 Hours Play, We Charge Genocide TV, The Justice Quilt,  Co-artistic direction of The BUILD Convening, and Digital Design of The Festival of Masks, in addition to consulting and advising funders and companies around the country. She is producing performances of justice on stage, online, and in real life.

Dr. Reynaldo Anderson

Dr. Reynaldo Anderson is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at Temple University in the department of Africology and African American Studies. Reynaldo is currently the executive director and co-founder of the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM), an international network of artists, intellectuals, creatives, and activists. He is the co-editor of the following anthologies and journals, Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness and The Black Speculative Arts Movement: Black Futurity, Art+Design (Lexington Books, 2015, 2019), Cosmic Underground: A Grimoire of Black Speculative Discontent (Cedar Grove Publishing, 2018), Black Lives, Black Politics, Black Futures, a special issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies (2018), and When is Wakanda: Afrofuturism and Dark Speculative Futurity (The Journal of Futures Studies, 2019). He is also the author of numerous articles on Africana Studies and Communication studies and helped conceive the joint BSAM and NY LIVE Arts Curating the End of the World online exhibitions on the Google Arts platform (2020-2022). Reynaldo is the co-editor of The Lovecraft Country Reader, forthcoming in 2022. Finally, Dr. Anderson is a member of the curatorial council for the Carnegie Hall Afrofuturism festival in New York City in February and March 2022. He has presented papers in areas of communications, Africana studies, Afrofuturism, and critical theory in the US and abroad.

Tauheedah Shukriyyah Asad

Tauheedah Shukriyyah Asad is a doctoral candidate in the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University. Her research interests include the intersections of Black media, education, community and culture. Combining ethnographic methods, digital tools and critical textual analysis, her work explores Black representation in media, narrative storytelling and cultural production.

Trisha Barton

Trisha Barton, EdM, is an education technology consultant, who explores the relationship between interdisciplinary design, creative uses of technology, and STEM education. For the past six years, she has facilitated self-designed STEM curricula that focus on creative technology and social justice education.   Her work has served various organizations including Columbia University, Bank Street, and Microsoft, giving her access to hundreds of children and education professionals throughout the New York City area and across the country. Trisha's expertise lives at the intersection of education psychology, communicating through art and design, and the flexibility to problem solve with STEM.   Trisha uses culturally relevant-projects, Afrofuturism, and Afrofeminism as strategies to develop curriculums and activities for students and school systems, including Robotic Dance Battles and virtual Afrofuturistic social justice creations. Her practice is keenly focused on studying the motivation of girls and children of color in STEM educational environments. Trisha’s unique perspective on education and STEM is rooted in her background as a millennial, a Spelman College and Columbia University graduate,  and a champion for the values of pursuing honor, self-sufficiency, and black excellence.

Lauren Bernard

Lauren Bernard is a PhD student in Historical Musicology at Columbia University. She holds degrees in music from The University North Texas (2015) and Brandeis University (2018). Lauren has presented her work at MIT, Brandies University, and Columbia University. Her current research interests include the perception of race in timbre and sound, musical constructions of alterity and identity, and Afrofuturist music.

andré m. carrington

andré carrington is a scholar of race, gender, and genre in Black and American cultural production. He is currently Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. His first book, Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction (Minnesota, 2016) interrogates the cultural politics of race in the fantastic genres through studies of science fiction fanzines, comics, film and television, and other speculative fiction texts.  He is currently at work on a second book-length project, Audiofuturism, on the cultural politics of race in science fiction radio drama and literary adaptation in a transatlantic context.

Dr. Julian Chambliss

Julian C. Chambliss is Professor of English and the Val Berryman Curator of History at the MSU Museum at Michigan State University. He is a core participant in the MSU College of Arts & Letters' Consortium for Critical Diversity in a Digital Age Research (CEDAR) and co-director for the Department of English Digital Humanities and Literary Cognition Lab (DHLC). His research interests focus on race, identity, and power in real and imagined spaces. Beyond the Black Panther: Visions of Afrofuturism in American Comics, his recent exhibition examining Afrofuturism in American comics is available virtually through the MSU Museum. His book includes Ages of Heroes, Eras of Men: Superheroes and the American Experience (2013), Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Essays on the Social, Cultural and Geopolitical Domain (2018), and Cities Imagined: The African Diaspora in Media and History (2018). His recent book Reframing Digital Humanities: Conversations with Digital Humanists (2021) explores the definition of digital humanities. He serves as the faculty lead for the Department of English's Graphic Possibilities Research Workshop (GPRW). GPRW explores pedagogy and critical inquiry through projects such as The Graphic Possibilities Open Educational Resource and Comics as Data North America (CaDNA) an ongoing collaborative research project that uses the library catalog data to explore North American comic culture. 

Dr. Elizabeth Chin

Elizabeth Chin is currently Professor in the MFA program Media Design Practices, where she emphasizes design approaches that center radical theories of race and social justice. She is an anthropologist with a diverse practice that includes experimental writing, performative scholarship, and made objects -- among other things.  She holds a BFA from NYU and a PhD from City University of New York.  Her research focuses on race and social inequality and she has undertaken projects in the urban United States, Haiti, Mexico, and Uganda.  She is currently editor in chief of American Anthropologist, the flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association. More information is available at elizabethjchin.wordpress.com.

Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a Queer Black Feminist Love Evangelist and an aspirational cousin to all life.  She is/they are the author of several books, most recently Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals and the co-founder of the Mobile Homecoming Trust, an intergenerational experiential living library of Black LBGTQ  brilliance.

Dr. Elizabeth Hamilton

Dr. Elizabeth Hamilton, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at Fort Valley State University and art historian whose research focuses on visual culture of the African diaspora, feminism, and Afrofuturism. Her forthcoming book, Charting the Afrofuturist Imaginary in African American Art: The Black Female Fantastic, reveals unlikely progenitors of Afrofuturism in art history. Dr. Hamilton has published research in Nka: The Journal of Contemporary African Art, African Arts, and the International Review of African American Art. She received the National Women’s Study Association: Women of Color Caucus Essay Award for “Abandoning the Negress and Recovering Laure in Manet’s Olympia.” She curated an exhibition, A Different Mirror: (re)Imagining Black Womanhood at the Tubman African American Museum in Macon, Georgia. Dr. Hamilton participated in the Art Writing Workshop, which is a partnership between the International Art Critics Association/USA Section (AICA/USA) and The Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. She completed her master’s and doctorate at the University of Florida’s School of Art and Art History, where she was a McKnight Doctoral Fellow. Before that, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wyoming. Dr. Hamilton enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, listening to music, watching films and 1970s and 1980s black sitcoms, going museum hopping, reading, writing, sewing, and baking sweet treats.

Dr. Njelle Hamilton

Dr. Njelle W. Hamilton is Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Virginia. She is the current convener of the Greater Caribbean Studies Network at UVa, book reviewer editor of Anthurium: a Caribbean Studies Journal, and serves on the editorial board of Caribbean in Transit arts journal. The author of Phonographic Memories: Popular Music and the Contemporary Caribbean Novel (Rutgers, 2019), Hamilton specializes in Caribbean literary and cultural studies, with particular focus on narrative innovations in the contemporary Caribbean novel. Her essays on sound studies, trauma theory and the physics of time have appeared in Anthurium, Journal of West Indian Literature, sx salon and Critical Perspectives on Indo-Caribbean Women’s Literature, while her short fiction has appeared in Centripetal and PREE. She is working on two book projects: a novel, “Everything Irie,” an experiment in Jamaican vernacular narrative; and a monograph tentatively titled “The Physics of Caribbean Time,” reads recent time travel novels through the lens of physics and Caribbean theory. Embracing storytelling as method and form, this book explores the alternative clocks and narrative forms that might more accurately render how Caribbean people experience time.

Ayana V. Jackson

Ayana V. Jackson (born in 1977 in East Orange, NJ, lives and works between Brooklyn, NY and Johannesburg, RSA) uses archival impulses to assess the impact of the colonial gaze on the history of photography and its relationship to the human body.    By using her lens to deconstruct 19th and early 20th century portraiture, Jackson questions photography’s authenticity and role in perpetuating socially relevant and stratified identities. Her practice maps the ethical considerations and relationships between the photographer, subject and viewer, in turn exploring themes around race, gender and reproduction. Her work examines myths of the Black Diaspora and re-stages colonial archival images as a mean to liberate the Black body.    Her work is collected by major local and international institutions including The Studio Museum in Harlem (New-York, NY), The Montclair Museum, The Newark Museum (NJ), The JP Morgan Chase collection, Princeton University Art Museum (NJ), the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (Australia), The Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Seattle, WA).    Jackson was a 2014 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow for Photography (NY), and the recipient of the 2018 Smithsonian Fellowship (Washington D.C).

John Jennings

John Jennings is a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California at Riverside where he teaches courses on Race and Horror, Afrofuturism and Aesthetics, Black Superheroes and Politics, and Comics and Contemporary Culture. Jennings is co-editor of the Eisner Award-winning collection The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of the Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art. Jennings was also a 2016 Nasir Jones Hip Hop Studies Fellow with the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. Jennings' current projects include the horror anthology Box of Bones, the coffee table book Black Comix Returns (with Damian Duffy), and the Eisner-winning, Bram Stoker Award-winning, New York Times best-selling graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler's classic dark fantasy novel Kindred. Jennings is also founder and curator of the ABRAMS Megascope line of graphic novels. Jennings along with Duffy is a 2021  Hugo Award winner for his illustration work on the graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s  Parable of the Sower. 

Ingrid LaFleur

Ingrid LaFleur is a curator, artist, afrofuture theorist, pleasure activist, and founder of The Afrofuture Strategies Institute (TASI). As a former candidate for the mayor of Detroit, LaFleur has made it her mission to ensure equal distribution of the future. She explores the frontiers of social justice through emerging technologies and science, and new economies and modes of government. Through TASI, LaFleur implements afrofuture foresight and approaches to empower Black bodies and oppressed communities. As a thought leader, social justice technologist, public speaker, teacher, and cultural advisor she has led conversations and workshops at Centre Pompidou (Paris), TEDxBrooklyn, TEDxDetroit, Ideas City, New Museum (New York), Harvard University, Oxford University, and Museum of Modern Art (New York) among others. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, NPR’s This American Life, and Hyperallergic to name a few.

Yuko Miki

Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Yuko Miki (B.A. Brown; M.A., Ph.D. New York University) is Associate Professor of History and Latin American and Latinx Studies and Affiliated Faculty of African and African American Studies at Fordham University in New York City. A historian of slavery and freedom in Brazil and the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World, she is the author of Frontiers of Citizenship: A Black and Indigenous History of Postcolonial Brazil (Cambridge, 2018). Frontiers of Citizenship won many awards, including the 2019 Wesley-Logan Prize for African Diaspora History from the American Historical Association and the Warren Dean Memorial Prize for Brazilian History from the Conference on Latin American History (CLAH). She is currently writing her new book, Emancipation's Shadow: Illegal Slavery in the Age of Freedom, for which she has received fellowships from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others. She is also working on a project on a West Central African, Kongo-based society called Pemba in mid-nineteenth-century Brazil that explores the possibilities and limitations of writing about African epistemologies in the archives of slavery. She has authored various articles and chapters in English in Portuguese and has given talks and interviews in four languages. She serves on the Editorial Board of The Americas and is Chair-Elect of CLAH's Brazil section. She lives in Brooklyn with her spouse and daughter. 

Eto Otitigbe

Eto Otitigbe is interested in recovering buried narratives and giving form to the unseen. He is a polymedia artist whose interdisciplinary practice includes sculpture, performance, installation, and public art. Otitigbe’s public works includes temporary installations in Socrates Sculpture Park (Queens, NY) and Randall’s Island Park (New York, NY). His current public commissions include: Peaceful Journey (Mt. Vernon, NY, 2022); Cascode (Philadelphia, PA); Emanativ (Harlem, NY); Passing Point (Alexandria, VA).  He was a member of the Design Team for the  Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at UVA (Charlottesville, VA) where he contributed to the creative expression on the memorial's exterior surface.      Otitigbe's work has been in solo and group exhibitions that include 2013 Bronx Calling: The Second AIM Biennial, organized by the Bronx Museum and Wave Hill; Abandoned Orchestra, Sound Sculpture installation and performance with Zane Rodulfo, Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; The Golden Hour, Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA, curated by Oshun D. Layne; and Bronx: Africa, Longwood Gallery, Bronx, NY, curated by Atim Oton and Leronn P. Brooks.      Otitigbe’s fellowships and awards include the CEC Artslink Project Award for travel and cultural projects in Egypt and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship at the National Museum of African Art where he explored the intersection of Urhobo language and historical objects.       His curatorial projects include directing the es ORO Gallery in Jersey City, NJ (2007-09) and co-curating, alongside Amanda Kerdahi, the Topophilia Exhibition in Nees, Denmark (2017) as part of the ET4U Meetings Festival in Denmark.       He is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture in the Art Department at Brooklyn College. He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, an M.S. in Product Design from Stanford University (M.S.) and an MFA in Creative Practice from the University of Plymouth. 

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an assistant professor of physics and core faculty in women's and gender studies at the University of New Hampshire. She is both a theoretical physicist with a focus on particle physics and cosmology and a theorist of Black feminist science, technology, and society studies. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is the author of The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred. 

Dr. Synatra Smith

Dr. Synatra Smith is an Afrofuturist cultural preservationist focused on demonstrating the creation, perpetuation, and transformation of Black cultural landscapes with special attention to the ways in which virtual and physical space are used as environments to transform access to archives and special collections, both conceptually and in practice, as well as the material culture that contributes to this phenomenon by developing immersive experiences using such technologies as mapping, augmented reality, and virtual reality. 

Morgan P. Vickers

Morgan P. Vickers is a writer, researcher, community historian, ethnographer, and third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley. Their current work focuses on the drowned towns of the Santee-Cooper Hydroelectric Project in Lowland South Carolina, wherein 901 families were displaced and native swampland ecologies were destroyed in the name of New Deal “progress.” Thematically, Morgan’s work contemplates Black geographies and Black ecologies, placemaking, federal dam and reservoir projects, affect, community memory studies, questions of belonging, and Black futures.

Ytasha L. Womack

Ytasha L. Womack is an award-winning author, filmmaker, independent scholar, and dance therapist. She is a leading expert on Afrofuturism and lectures on the imagination and its applications across the world. Her book "Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi and Fantasy Culture" is a leading primer on the subject. Her other books include the sci fi novels "Rayla 2212," "Rayla 2213," and  A Spaceship in Bronzeville as well the nonfiction books  "Beats Rhymes and Life" and "Post Black."  She directed the Afrofuturist dance film "A Love Letter to the Ancestors From Chicago" and wrote the romantic comedy "Couples Night." Ytasha created an Afrofuturist dance therapy program for teens and adults. She's  an event curator for the Adler Planetarium's Afrofuturism Nights and the Rayla 2212 immersive experiences... Ytasha's held residencies with Black Rock Senegal, Emerson College, Kickstarter, and Writers on the Wall in Liverpool. Her graphic novel, "Blak Kube" illustrated by Tanna Tucker debuts in 2023. A Chicago resident, she received her BA in Mass Media Arts from Clark Atlanta University and studied Media Management at Columbia College Chicago. 

Danielle Wood

Professor Danielle Wood serves as an Assistant Professor in Media Arts & Sciences and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Within the MIT Media Lab, Prof. Wood leads the Space Enabled Research Group which seeks to advance justice in Earth's complex systems using designs enabled by space. Prof. Wood is a scholar of societal development with a background that includes satellite design, earth science applications, systems engineering, and technology policy. In her research, Prof. Wood applies these skills to design innovative systems that harness space technology to address development challenges around the world. Prior to serving as faculty at MIT, Professor Wood held positions at NASA Headquarters, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Aerospace Corporation, Johns Hopkins University, and the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs. Prof. Wood studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned a PhD in engineering systems, SM in aeronautics and astronautics, SM in technology policy, and SB in aerospace engineering.

Lisa Yaszek

Lisa Yaszek is Regents’ Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, where she explores science fiction as a global language crossing centuries, continents, and cultures. Yaszek’s books include Galactic Suburbia: Recovering Women’s Science Fiction (Ohio State, 2008); Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction (Wesleyan 2016); The Future is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women (Library of America, 2018); and Literary Afrofuturism in the Twenty-First Century (co-edited with Isiah Lavender III, Ohio State, 2020). Her ideas have been featured in The Washington Post, Food and Wine Magazine, and USA Today, and she has been an expert commentator for CBS Sunday Morning, the BBC4, and the AMC miniseries James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction. A past president of the Science Fiction Research Association, Yaszek currently serves as a juror for the John W. Campbell and Eugie Foster Science Fiction Awards.

Video Participants  

Helane Androne

Helane Adams Androne is Professor of English at Miami University (Ohio) where she teaches African American literature, Latinx/e literatures, and speculative fictions. She is the editor of Multiethnic American Literatures: Essays for Teaching Context and Culture, and author of Ritual Structures in Chicana Fiction, which examines the sacred in texts by Chicana authors as part of the Literatures of the Americas Series, edited by Norma Cantú for Palgrave/MacMillan. She has also published articles in a number of journals, including Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture; MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States; The Journal of Pan-African Studies; and, The Journal of Communication and Religion. Helane's work is concerned with the emergence, revision, and validation of the sacred, and the activist technologies and rites these inspire, for enhancing community and belonging. Her forthcoming work focuses on myth and magic in science fiction and fantasy by black women.

Ahmed Best

Adjunct Professor at USC School Of Dramtic Arts, Adjunct professor at Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of design, Senior Fellow at USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. Co-Founder of The Afrorithm Futures Group. Producer and host of Star Wars JEDI TEMPLE CHALLENGE (Telly Award Winner.) Star of the Star Wars prequels as Jar Jar Binks the first CGI lead charcter in a motion picture. Star of the Broadway musical Stomp A graduate of the American Film Institute. 

Marcel Bouvrie

Marcel Bouvrie studied composition for the media at the ArtEZ conservatory in Enschede and studied Musicology at the Utrecht University where he graduated cum laude. He is currently teaching the history and analysis of Film Music at Utrecht University and is preparing a PhD in Musicology on the intersection of dystopian literature and music. His main research interest is the topic of music embedded within narrative and narrative embedded in music with a specific focus on the intersection between music and dystopian/utopian literature. In this light, the dystopian and utopian themes explored in Afrofuturism fit his research interest. Especially the musical, philosophical and mythopoetic endeavours of Sun Ra in relation to an imagined future inspire and encourage further research. Bouvrie’s aim here is to map Sun Ra’s legacy and to examine how his successors prolong and develop Ra’s strategy of using space as a metaphor for imagining a different future through music. In his presentation Cosmic Changes: Space in Jazz after Sun Ra, Bouvrie demonstrates that Ra’s ethos of “the freedom to rise above a cruel planet” still has merit and shows how his music, persona and philosophy still reverberates in today’s cosmic jazz.  

Jeremy Brett

Jeremy Brett is an Associate Professor at Cushing Memorial Library & Archives, Texas A&M University, where he is both Processing Archivist and the Curator of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Research Collection. He has also worked at the University of Iowa, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the National Archives and Records Administration-Pacific Region, and the Wisconsin Historical Society. He received his MLS and his MA in History from the University of Maryland – College Park in 1999. His professional interests include science fiction, fan studies, and the intersection of libraries and social justice.

Lonny Brooks

Lonny J Avi Brooks is a Professor in the Department of Communication at California State University, East Bay, in strategic communication where he piloted the integration of futures thinking into the communication curriculum for the last fifteen years. Emerging in recent years as a leading voice of Afrofuturism 2.0, Brooks contributes prolifically to journals, conferences and anthologies on the subject, and is co-executive producer/co-creator, with Ahmed Best, of The Afrofuturist Podcast. He is the lead co-editor for the Dec. 2019 special issue of the Journal of Futures Studies: “When is Wakanda? Afrofuturism & Dark Speculative Futurity”.  He is lead co-organizer in Oakland, for the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM). He is co-founder and co-Creative Director with Ahmed Best of the Afrorithm Futures Group, using gaming and emerging media for imaginative, futures, action-oriented thinking to democratize the future. He has a passion for creating games envisioning social justice futures including Black and Queer liberation with the game he co-designed Afro-Rithms From The Future. Working with the Museum of Children’s Arts (MOCHA) in Oakland, Brooks is co-director of the Community Futures School powered by Afrofuturism. Brooks serves as a Research Affiliate for the Institute For The Future. He is a Long Now Foundation Research Fellow. He serves as co-editor with Tobias van veen of Afrofuturist Studies & the Speculative Arts: Lexington Press, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield. 

Safiyah Cheatam

Safiyah Cheatam is a Baltimore-based social practice artist, researcher, digital storyteller, arts educator and administrator. She focuses on material culture and social phenomena involving Black Muslims in the United States, and the role of Afrofuturism in Black folks’ daily lives through which she explores the nuances of duality existing within Black and Muslim people. For her work as a co-producer of her awards-nominated podcast OBSIDIAN, she is the recipient of a Red Bull Arts Microgrant and Rubys Artist Grant by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. Safiyah is currently the VisArts Bresler resident artist and has notably collaborated with the Baltimore Museum of Art, Walters Art Museum, Morgan State University’s Center for the Study of Religion in the City, Black Islam Syllabus, Rap Research Lab. She has been featured in The Washington Post, NBC News, BmoreArt, and has exhibited artworks nationally.   In this video essay "Yarrow Mamout: Weaver of Islam, Counter-Memory, and Afrofuturism in late 18th century Georgetown, D.C.", she will uplift a local legacy of Black Muslim resilience, self-determination, and success within the realm of Afrofuturism. She has written and presented on Mundane Afrofuturism in various capacities including in her graduate thesis "From Counter-Memory to Counter-Culture: Black Islam in the U.S. Through a Mundane Afrofuturist Lens," short essay “Making a Case for W.E.B. Du Bois as a Proto-Afrofuturist,” and narrative podcast OBSIDIAN. Additionally, in Spring 2020,  Safiyah interned as a Curatorial Research Assistant at NMAAHC to develop the forthcoming Afrofuturism exhibition.

James Deutsch

James Deutsch is a curator and editor at the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, where he has helped plan and develop public programs on California, China, Hungary, Peace Corps, Apollo Theater, Circus Arts, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Mekong River, U.S. Forest Service, World War II, Silk Road, and White House workers. In addition, he serves as an adjunct professor—teaching courses on American film history and folklore—in the American Studies Department at George Washington University. Deutsch has also taught American Studies classes at universities in Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Poland, and Turkey. Overall, he has held more than sixty different jobs in twenty different states and countries, including newspaper reporter, librarian, park ranger/forest ranger, census enumerator, and monorail operator at Walt Disney World. He has earned academic degrees from Williams College, University of Minnesota, Emory University, and George Washington University, and has published numerous articles and encyclopedia entries on a wide range of topics relating to film and folklore.

D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem

D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem is a space sculptor whose practice spans site-specific art, ritual, design, ecology, and two decades in the realm of Afro-Futurism. Her meticulously constructed fantastical interactive Afri-sci-fi environments and performances interrogate, titillate, decolonize, and empower, rooted in Sun Ra's transformational legacy, asking "Who controls the future?"  Duyst-Akpem is Associate Professor, Adj., School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Core Faculty, Low-Residency MFA Program, and founder of Denenge Design and In The Luscious Garden, focused on holistic and conceptual approaches to human-centered design.   Features include: ICA London, Black Quantum Futurism; Arts Club of Chicago; Kunsthaus Zürich; Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin, Connecting Afro-Futures; ARTEXTE; U.S. Library of Congress (NASA/Blumberg); Red Bull Arts NY; Schomburg Center; AGO; MCA; Burning Man 2020; Terrain Biennial; Kavi Gupta Editions; Goethe Institut; School of Human Ecology, U-Madison-Wisconsin; The Seen; ARTnews; Newsweek; essay on AFRICOBRA’s Jae Jarrell, Kavi Gupta Gallery and 58th Venice Biennale; Theaster Gates: How To Build a House Museum; The Collections of Peggy Cooper Cafritz; Fleeting Monuments for the Black Arts Movement, Vegetal Entanglements (2022, MIT); Africa Fashion, V&A Museum (2022). Her monograph AFRIFUTURI 02022020 was launched with The Camo Coat Collection.  Duyst-Akpem is a 2020 LaBecque Laureate, 2014 NEH Fellow, and 2017 Place Lab Fellow, Rebuild Foundation. Awards include 2018 Marion Kryczka Excellence in Teaching Award; Diversity Advisory Group 2016 Teaching Award for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion; and early on, Gardner Award in American Studies for a paper developed at NMAfA. Denenge holds an MFA from SAIC and BA from Smith College. 

Dr. Saisha Grayson

Saisha Grayson is the curator of time-based media at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; she joined the museum staff in March 2018. Her responsibilities include research, exhibitions and acquisitions related to the museum’s distinguished collection of time-based media arts. Recent projects include a permanent collection gallery connecting early media and performance art to a new contemporary acquisition, and a pop-up exhibition Pride @ SAAM featuring a participatory performance by Brendan Fernandes.  Since 2019, Grayson has organized an annual Women Filmmakers Festival at SAAM, and in 2020, she helped spearhead the 48-hour livestreaming presentation of Arthur Jafa’s “Love is the Message, The Message is Death.” She is currently preparing a special exhibition on the impact of musical thinking on recent media art, that will feature Jafa, Cauleen Smith and other leading contemporary voices recently added to SAAM’s media art collection.  Grayson was previously the assistant curator at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum from 2011 to 2016. There she was organizing curator for “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey” (2013), lead curator for “Chitra Ganesh: Eyes of Time” (2014) and co-curator for the experimental, multi-part exhibition “Agitprop!” (2015).   Her writing has appeared in numerous journals and catalogs. Grayson earned a master’s degree from Columbia University (2008) and her doctorate at the Graduate Center, CUNY (2018), with fellowship support from the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Luce/ACLS program, and the Graduate Center for her dissertation on avant-garde cellist, catalyst and collaborator Charlotte Moorman.  

Rebecca Hankins

Rebecca Hankins, CA, MLIS, is the Wendler Endowed Professor and a certified archivist/librarian at Texas A&M University (TAMU). She has been at TAMU since 2003, receiving tenure in 2010 and promotion to Full Professor in 2019.  In December of 2016, U. S. President Barack Obama appointed her (one of two members he appoints) to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) that is responsible for evaluating and dispensing between $5-10 million dollars in funds annually for the National Archives. Professor Hankins was elected as an SAA Distinguished Fellow in 2016, the highest honor in the archival profession.   She teaches courses on the use of primary sources in research, research methodology, memory, myth making, and identity. Her research centers on diversity as it intersects within the African Diaspora, gender, race and ethnicity, and the applied use of popular culture as a pedagogical method that offers new approaches to the study of Islam. She has presented widely about diversity, inclusion, cultural competency, social justice, and equity in academia. Her work has been published in library, archival, and science fiction peer-reviewed journals and book chapters. In 2016 her book, co-authored by Miguel Juarez, Ph.D., was published by Library Juice Press titled "Where Are All the Librarians of Color: The Experiences of People of Color in Academia." Her most recent publication is a chapter titled “Reel Bad African Americans Muslims” for Muslim American Hyphenations: Muslim Writers, Artists, and Performers in America. Roman & Littlefield, Lexington Books, edited volume by Prof. Mahwash Shoaib, 2021.

Dr. Andrew Mulenga

Dr. Andrew Mulenga is a Zambian Art Historian and CNN Award Winning Arts & Culture Journalist. Formerly a lecturer at the Zambian Open University in Lusaka, he recently took up the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor at Open Window University for the creative arts, Lusaka. He initially studied Art & Design and began his career as a graphic designer later working his way to an appointment as Deputy Editor of the Education Post while establishing himself as the resident Art Critic at The Post Newspapers where he published a weekly art column titled “Andrew Mulenga’s Hole in The Wall” for close to 15 years. Apart from writing about art he has also conducted several art criticism/journalism workshops for emerging arts writers in Zambia and has spoken about modern and contemporary Zambian and African art in places such as UCLA (Los Angeles), Tate Modern (London), Berlin Art Week (Berlin) and University of Cape Town. In 2019 and 2020 he was among the emerging scholars selected for the Modern Art Histories in and across Africa, South and Southeast Asia (MAHASSA) organized by Cornell University, Asia Art Archives, Dhaka Art Foundation and the Getty Foundation. Mulenga is also a recipient of Andrew Mellon and South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF SARChI Chair) scholarships which sponsored his MA and PhD Art History studies at Rhodes University respectively. He has also been a judge for the Standard Bank Ovation Awards at the National Arts Festival in South Africa. Publishing post-doctoral book chapters and journal articles, Dr. Mulenga maintains an active research agenda in the examination of socially-engaged art criticism, conceptual art, modern and contemporary African and Afrofuturism/African Futurism in their broader definitions. 

Mutale Nkonde

Mutale Nkonde is an Emmy winning producer, and the leader and founder of AI for the People (AFP). A communications firm whose mission is to use art and culture to help people imagine a world in which technologies that do not track, misinform or harm Black people. To achieve this, in 2019, she published a report on Advancing Racial Literacy in Tech and her work has been featured in Wired, The Washington Post and The New York Times. Nkonde was part of a news report on facial recognition and shareholder activism, called All Eyes on You, which won a 2021 New York Emmy. Blackness Unbound, is her first film that seeks to make the concepts discussed within Afro futurism accessible to ordinary Black people. In the 10 minute film Nkonde and the rest of the cast make the connection between afro futurism, hip hop, racial justice and fantasy. Blackness Unbound has just completed its theatrical release in LA and has been selected to screen at the 2022 Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival. She hopes this film will invite you into the conversation. Learn more about her work at www.aiforthepeopleus.org

Dr. J. Brendan Shaw

J. Brendan Shaw is an assistant professor of English in the Humanities Department of Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. His research examines Black women’s uses of technology to tell alternative stories about pleasure and desire. His work combines Black feminist theory, queer theory, and media studies to examine literature, film, music, and digital ephemera. He has published essays on Erykah Badu, Beyoncè, and the digital afterlife of Sandra Bland. As a teacher, his interests include Black women’s writing, gender and sexuality studies, first year writing, and genre studies. 

Ruvimbo Samanga

Ms. Ruvimbo Samanga is Space Law & Policy Analyst/Researcher, looking to collaborate on space-related, capacity building research for the African and the global space sector.   She has a deep appreciation for the creative arts and how it brings inspiration to education, business, and leadership. She is devouted to community engagement and making meaningful relationships with others. She explores her curious passions and talents through the space industry and its intersectionalities with trade, investment, human rights, and the social sciences.  

D'Ondre Swails

D'Ondre Swails is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Africana Studies at Brown University, where he specializes in African American intellectual history and cultural studies. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, California, he completed his BA at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA in 2015 before receiving his AM in Africana Studies at Brown in 2018. He is currently working on his dissertation project, which is an interpretive study of the African American gangsta figure. 

Dr. Christopher White

Christopher White received his PhD from Harvard University, where he studied religion, science, technology and spirituality in modern America.  He is particularly interested in religion and science, new forms of spirituality, electronic media and popular culture. His first book, Unsettled Minds: Psychology and the American Search for Spiritual Assurance (California) examined how Americans during the past century used psychological and medical insights to fashion new, more scientific ways of testing, analyzing and sometimes even fostering religious trances, visions and experiences.  His second book, Other Worlds: Spirituality and the Search for Invisible Dimensions (Harvard), examined the pop cultural history of the idea that the universe has hidden dimensions, parallel worlds and alternate spaces.  Other Worlds was awarded a 2019 “best book” prize in science and religion from the International Society for Science and Religion. He is currently working on two projects -- an examination of the supernatural in televisual media and a book on contested visions of globalism, religious universalism, the environment and social justice that develop in the wake of the U.S. space program. The title of his talk is “Race, Alienation, and the American Astronautical Imagination.”