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Projecting posterity 
Morgan Robinson (Mississippi State University)
Fabian Krautwald (Princeton University)
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Fabian Krautwald (Princeton University)
Gregor Dobler (Freiburg University)
History (x) Futures (y)
Philosophikum, S57
Friday 2 June, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

This panel investigates ways in which Africans have sought to determine unknowable futures through a focus on varied "visionary practices" ranging from eschatology to linguistics, highlighting how African societies adapted their means to presage various tomorrows surrounding the colonial encounter.

Long Abstract:

This panel explores historical attempts to divine the future, exploring the ways in which various African communities have defined the borders between past, present, and posterity during and after colonial rule. Colonialism challenged African societies' endogenous forecasts of futurity. Yet Africans also adapted existing and created new forms of projection to contest unilinear prognostications of 'development' and 'progress'. The papers of this panel explore these adaptations through the idea of "visionary practice." Visionary practice, whether shaping eschatological, generational, biological, or linguistic futures, goes beyond the simple imagination of times to come. More often it incorporated creating or gathering information, planning, resource collection, and, in some cases, implementation. By following the steps by which historical actors have grappled with and sought to anticipate an unknowable future, the authors of this panel's papers uncover the routine intercalation of the extraordinary and the practical, the hopeful and the pessimistic, and of today, yesterdays, and tomorrows. The panel thereby contributes to a deeper understanding of the ways in which Africans in a variety of contexts have drawn certainty out of uncertainty.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 2 June, 2023, -