This translation is an excerpt from Achille Mbembe's 2016 book Politiques de l'inimitié (chapter four). Chapter two of the book was previously translated by Giovanni Menegalle in issue 200 of Radical Philosophy. The journal Theory, Culture & Society also recently published a conversation between Mbembe and David Theo Goldberg. I translated this quickly for a friend; please email me with comments or corrections should you find any.
As a literary, aesthetic and cultural movement, Afrofuturism emerged from across the diaspora during the second half of the Twentieth Century. It combines science fiction, reflections on the relation between technology and various black cultures, magical realism and non-European cosmologies in order to question the past history of so-called persons of color, as well as their current conditions in the present.1 In rejecting humanism outright, Afrofuturism contends that humanism can only exist by relegating some other subject or entity (whether alive or not) to a merely mechanical status as object or accident.
Afrofuturism is not simply content on shattering the illusion of the "properly human." Rather, according to them, the black experience defeats the very notion of the human species. Produced from a specific predatory history, the Black is essentially a human refashioned into a thing, forced to endure the same fate as that of an object or tool. Because of this, the Black has become bearer of a kind of human grave. He is a wraith who haunts the delirious fantasies of Western humanism, itself having become a kind of crypt to house the souls of all those forced to share the fate of objects. Continue reading