Reynaldo Anderson & Alix Gerber
Reynaldo Anderson, Ph.D.
Harris-Stowe State University / Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM)
Dr. Reynaldo Anderson currently serves as Associate Professor of Communication and Chair of Humanities department at Harris-Stowe State University in Saint Louis Missouri.
He is also currently the executive director and co-founder of the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM), an international network of artists, intellectuals, creatives and activists. In addition, Reynaldo is the co-editor of Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness published by Lexington, co-editor of Cosmic Underground: A Grimoire of Black Speculative Discontent published by Cedar Grove Publishing, and the co-editor of “Black Lives, Black Politics, Black Futures”, a special issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, as well as the co-editor for the forthcoming book, The Black Speculative Arts Movement: Black Futurity, Art+Design to be published by Lexington.
Design Researcher / Washington University in St. Louis / Design Radical Futures
Alix Gerber is a design researcher who works with people to visualize and enact the futures we imagine, provoking discussion around how our society could be more equitable and meaningful. Most recently, Alix has been developing and teaching courses at Washington University in St. Louis, such as Radical Design, where undergraduate students imagine alternatives to civic experiences like policing, capitalism or voting.
Alix has also worked with residents of Harlem, New York and Ferguson, Missouri to explore alternatives to our current policing and court systems by making artifacts from divergent futures.
New Suns: Afrofuturism 2.0 and the Speculative Imagination
If speculative design seeks to include a diverse populations’ imagination of the future, we must first build awareness of the existing diversity of speculative practices. Afrofuturism and the black speculative arts movement could be a place to start. It has been pointed out that speculative design too often brings a colonial perspective to the future. Projects raise important social questions, yet they come from their creators’ own privileged worldviews, and fail to confront the realities of these issues.
As we know, this problem is larger than this forum, and larger than speculative design as a practice. Parallel tracks of imagining speculative futures have always existed, and certain tracks have always held more power to define the social narrative. As John Pfeiffer writes in 1975, Black American literature was just as speculative as the science fiction literature that came out of the industrial revolution. Instead of imagining progress and future technologies, Black American literature imagined future freedom.
In this talk, Reynaldo Anderson and Alix Gerber will explore the contemporary black speculative tradition and its implications for speculative design. They will discuss the work of John Jennings with critical race design studies, Lonny Brooks with afrofuturetypes, Nettrice R. Gaskin’s work on ‘techno-vernacular’ creative production, and others.