Document Type



time; arts; imagined futures; eastern Africa

Identifier Data



Nordic Journal of African Studies

Rights Management



This article introduces the NJAS special issue “Art and Imagined Futures in Eastern Africa”, edited by Alex Perullo, Claudia Böhme, and Christina Woolner, and has not been peer-reviewed. Artists in eastern Africa use songs, poems, fiction, cartoons, and other artistic forms to explore their lived experiences and future possibilities. Through their art they can envision alternatives to their current experiences, contest social and political problems, and reveal the dangers of complacency. They can also grapple with regret at missed opportunities or develop a sense of longing for a future that could or should have been had different decisions been made. Through these processes of envisioning and challenging future trajectories, artists illuminate diverse human attitudes toward time, encompassing hopes, aspirations, fears, anger, resentment, and nostalgia. Recognizing the role that artists have in empathizing with and validating the experiences of others, this article provides a framework for comprehending artistic orientations to time that are often fluid, contested, and uneven. It reveals that individuals, including both creators and consumers of art, orient themselves toward different future possibilities as they negotiate their present circumstances and daily struggles. Thus, art serves as a medium through which individuals explore, challenge, critique, and imagine future possibilities, as well as deal with regret at unexplored past opportunities.