The Past into the Future: Afrofuturism and Ancient Egypt

17 Mar, 2023

The Past into the Future: Afrofuturism and Ancient Egypt

Image credit: Stanford Carpenter

with Rita Lucarelli (UC Berkeley), Max Jefferson (UC Berkeley), Ytasha Womack (Chicago), Vorris Nunley (UC Riverside), Darryl Smith (UC Berkeley), John Jennings (UC Riverside), Stanford Carpenter (University of Chicago), Claudia Attimonelli (University of Bari, Italy), Dexter Story (UCLA), Luciana Parisi (Duke University), Abu Qadim Haqq, and more.

Presented by Center of Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) with the support of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society (CSTMS), the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM), the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MELC), and the Italian Institute of Culture, San Francisco.

Register and more information here:

This two-day conference introduces a new project, which explores the reception and cultural imagining of Ancient Egypt and of its monuments, arts, writing and religion in the Black visual arts, music and literature through the lens of scholars and artists inspired by Afrofuturism. This project aims at creating a channel and platform of communication and collaboration among egyptologists, scholars of African and African-American studies, artists and musicians from the African Diaspora inspired by the ancient Egyptian and Nubian culture.

The art of Doran Dada ( wll be on exhibition in the conference room.

Conference Schedule

Friday, March 17

Afrofuturism, myth, and reception of Ancient Egypt and Nubia

2 pm: Rita Lucarelli (UC Berkeley): Introduction - “Space is the Place”: space-traveling and endless pasts, from ancient Egypt to the Futures

2.30-3 pm: Max Jefferson (UC Berkeley): The Space Program: Music as Transportation and the Myth of Sun-Ra.

3 pm: Ytasha Womack (Chicago) and John Jennings (UC Riverside): Afrofuturism's Ancient Egyptian & Nubian inspirations

4 pm: Break

4.15 pm: Vorris Nunley (UC Riverside): Sankofa Psychology: Being, Becoming, and World Building a Past that Was Never Past

4.45 pm: Darryl Smith (UC Berkeley): A Boat-Sun in Orbit of the Pillars: Sacred Bearing in William Melvin Kelley’s Book of the Dead

5.15 pm: Discussion (Discussant: Luciana Parisi, Duke University)

Saturday, March 18

Afrofuturism, Ancient Egypt and Black Visual Arts

9.30 am: Dexter Story (UCLA), Mothership Landing: Funk and The Afrofuturist Universe of ’77

10.00 am: Stanford Carpenter (Oriental Institute, University of Chicago): Crafting Tomorrow's Heroes from the Echoes and Trace Remains of Ancient Cultures

10.30 am: Claudia Attimonelli (University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy) and Abu Qadim Haqq (Detroit): The Book of Drexciya I & II, from the Bubble Metropolis to Techno-Electro vibes: afrofuturism from the deep Black Sea

11.00 am: Grace D. Gipson (Virginia Commonwealth University): Drawing and Mapping Black Futures: Comics and the Black Imagination

11.30 am-12 pm: Discussion and Final Remarks (Discussants: Luciana Parisi, Duke University and Rita Lucarelli, UC Berkeley)


The event is free and open to the public. Please contact info.bcnm [at] with requests or questions.

With the consent of featured speakers, all recorded videos will be available on the BCNM YouTube channel immediately after the event and event transcripts will be posted to this page one month after the event. We strive to meet any additional access and accommodation needs.

BCNM is proud to make conversations with leading scholars, artists, and technologists freely available to the public. Please help us continue this tradition by making a tax-deductible donation today. If you are in the position to support the program, we suggest $5 per event, or $100 a year.

Previous Next