Art, Tech & Culture

A Conversation with Nnedi Okorafor

Art, Tech & Culture
04 Mar, 2019

A Conversation with Nnedi Okorafor

Donna Jones
Associate Professor, English

in conversation with Nnedi Okorafor
Artist, Olympia Fields, IL

Presented in partnership with the Department of Architecture's Studio One,the Department of African American Studies, and the Department of English and in collaboration with the Berkeley Arts and Design initiative as part of A+D Mondays @ BAMPFA

Sponsored in part by the Horst Rittel Endowment and the Craigslist Chair in New Media Endowment.

"Nature is the greatest artist and scientist. If we human beings, with our rather brilliant, often flawed, sometimes evil, creativity joined forces with our creator (nature), as opposed to trying to control it and treat it like our slave, imagine the wonders we could create. If we worked with nature, we’d also avoid being the target of nature’s epic wrath. This is why when I write about technology, I naturally (pun intended) go in the direction things are already going, i.e. organic," Nnedi Okorafor, the international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism for both children and adults, has written.

Technology and its potentials have long fascinated Okorafor, who began writing science fiction thanks to the glimpses of the future she would see in Nigeria, which were far different from those she'd been exposed to in the West.

About Nnedi Okorafor

Born in the United States to two Nigerian immigrant parents, Nnedi is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. In a profile of Nnedi’s work titled, “Weapons of Mass Creation”, The New York Times called Nnedi’s imagination “stunning”.

Her bestselling and popular works include the Binti and Akata Witch series, Lagoon, and Who Fears Death—currently in production as a new HBO series produced by George R.R. Martin. This World Fantasy, Hugo, and Nebula Award-winning author has also penned three issues of Marvel’s Black Panther comic book, Long Live the King. She is an associate professor of creative writing and literature at the University at Buffalo.

About Donna Jones

Donna V. Jones is an Associate Professor in the Department of English. She serves as Core Faculty for both the Graduate Group in Critical Theory and the Center for Science, Technology and Society. Her research areas are in science fiction and African and Afro-Caribbean literature; her two research fields are tied together by her interest in the philosophies of life through which she has raised questions such as: what does it mean to live an authentic life or suffer a living death; what the longing for immortality, seemingly now on the technological horizon, reveals about the human condition; and how has literature expressed a desire for personal and cultural rebirth. She is the author of The Racial Discourses of LIfe Philosophy: Negritude, Vitalism and Modernity, which won the Scaglione Prize in Comparative Literature in 2010. She has nearly completed two other books: one on how artists from the colonized world redefined death and life in the wake of The Great War and the second on literature and the philosophy of life. Her published and forthcoming work can be found at her personal website maintained by the Department of English. Before her homecoming to Berkeley (she completed her Ph.D. here in Comparative Literature), she taught at Princeton University and Stanford University.

About the Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium

Founded by Prof. Ken Goldberg in 1997, the ATC lecture series is an internationally respected forum for creative ideas. Always free of charge and open to the public, the series is coordinated by the Berkeley Center for New Media and has presented over 200 leading artists, writers, and critical thinkers who question assumptions and push boundaries at the forefront of art, technology, and culture including: Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Sophie Calle, Bruno Latour, Maya Lin, Doug Aitken, Pierre Huyghe, Miranda July, Billy Kluver, David Byrne, Gary Hill, and Charles Ray.

Fall 2018 – Spring 2019: Fact & Fiction

What do we make now of this classic opposition? For centuries, artists and critics have placed pressure on both of these terms, often asking us to question how to separate truth from lies, the real from the artificial, and fact from fiction. Addressing a range of political contexts and utilizing an array of creative forms, speakers in this series offer new approaches to these age-old questions.

The Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium is presented in conjunction with Arts + Design Mondays at BAMPFA.

Monday Evenings, 6:30-8:00pm
Osher Theater, BAMPFA, Berkeley, CA
Seating free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted


09/10 Roxane Gay: With One N
Roxane Gay, Author, Indiana
Registration required via Eventbrite.

10/08 The Networked Avant-Garde
Kelani Nichole, Director The Current, New York
In partnership with the Wiesenfeld Visiting Artist Lecture Series

10/15 Image and Amnesia
Kerry Tribe, Artist, LA, CA
In partnership with the Wiesenfeld Visiting Artist Lecture Series

10/29 The Good Anthropocene: Terraforming Earth
Kim Stanley Robinson, Author, Davis, CA
In partnership with the Department of Architecture's Studio One

11/19 Daemons Tools Art Tech
Marisa Morán Jahn, Artist, Cambridge, MA


02/11 News of the Future and the Future of News
Kevin Delaney, Editor, Quartz
In partnership with the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

02/25 In and out of the Body and into the Machine
Chico Macmurtrie, Artist, New York

03/04 A Conversation with Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor, Artist, Olympia Fields, IL
In partnership with the Department of Architecture's Studio One,
the Department of African American Studies,
and the Department of English

03/18 On Digital Colonialism and 'Other' Futures
Morehshin Allahyari, Artist, New York
In partnership with the Wiesenfeld Visiting Artist Lecture Series
and the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation
and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies
and Stanford University
Registration required via Eventbrite.

04/01 A Body Without Borders
Rhonda Holberton, Artist, Oakland
In partnership with the Wiesenfeld Visiting Artist Lecture Series

04/29 Places in Space
Adam Savage, Mythbusters, SF
In partnership with the Department of Architecture's Studio One
Registration required via Eventbrite.

For updated information, maps, please see:

Contact: info.bcnm [​at​], 510-495-3505

ATC Director: Ken Goldberg
BCNM Director: Nicholas de Monchaux
Arts + Design Director: Shannon Jackson
BCNM Liaisons: Lara Wolfe, Laurie Macfee

ATC Home Page (list of speakers, directions, mailing list):

ATC Highlight Video from F10-S11 Season (2 mins)

ATC Audio-Video Archive on Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive:

ATC on Facebook:

ATC on Twitter:

Arts + Design Mondays @ BAMPFA is organized and sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Arts + Design Initiative. The series is co curated by Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium at the Berkeley Center for New Media; Department of Art Practice; Graduate School of Journalism; Townsend Center for the Humanities; The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, and in collaboration with the Headlands Center for the Arts; Fort Mason Center/COAL + ICE; CIEE; Art21; and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The 2018-19 series of Arts + Design Mondays is made possible thanks to a generous donation from Jacqueline Jackson and other supporters of Berkeley Arts + Design.

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