CultureLab • Seminar

X-Centric Futures – Debate #3

Uriel Orlow – Imbizo Ka Mafavuke / Mafavuke's Tribunal

Public screening and discussion of Uriel Orlow’s film Imbizo Ka Mafavuke / Mafavuke’s Tribunal (28′, 2017).

Mafavuke, an indigenous healer from South Africa who in 1940 stood trial for mixing European ingredients in his formulations, travels through time into our present to take on the pharmaceutical industry’s appropriation of indigenous knowledge. Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal) is an experimental documentary set at the edge of a nature reserve in Johannesburg.

A kind of Brechtian ‘Lehrstück’, the film shows the preparations for a people’s tribunal where traditional healers, activists and lawyers come together to ask who benefits when plants become pharmaceuticals, given multiple claims to ownership, priority, locality and appropriation. And of course, ghosts of colonial explorers need to be reckoned with at the same time in order to imagine future scenarios and frameworks.

This event will take place within the scope of the activities of the X-Centric Futures research seminar (CultureLab/IFILNOVA), coordinated by Giovanbattista Tusa, and was developed in collaboration with Centro Cultural Carpintarias de São Lázaro.

This collaborative effort aims to change the generally installed perception that the future is an inescapable and threatening age of social disruption and ecological catastrophes.
It seeks to develop rigorous critical practices and create an open platform for a dialogue between different perspectives in the redefinition of thinking in a planetary age.
Throughout the program of debates we start from the assumption that there is no humanity to come, but rather a multitude of different humanities with different futures and different pasts, whose exploration implies the development of new theoretical and practical frameworks and categories.

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The X-Centric Futures research seminar, coordinated by Giovanbattista Tusa, aims to extend critical thought in the humanities and social sciences and to develop rigorous critical practices that move beyond academic interdisciplinarity. The mission of the program is to deepen different perspectives that concur in the redefinition of critical thinking in a planetary age, and to explore art practices that challenge well-established assumptions of research and the methodologies used for analysis by privileging critical approaches to thinking that have generally not yet entered into academic discussions.

We believe that there is a philosophical vacuum on the subject of futurity other than that imagined as a data visualisation leading to decision-making by corporate, administrative or political bodies. To some extent, it is as if philosophy has abdicated its function and delegated to corporate global think tanks the responsibility for formulating viable paths for the transformation of our present. To explore X-centric, divergent futures means for us to experiment with time, space, and politics. It means to complicate our time with invisible, insurgent, multiple temporalities that fissure the material layers of our history, to reframe global historical narratives that incorporate decolonising processes and climate justice, nurturing ourselves as a community, creating wishful images inhabited by unseen, dissident realities that are coming into being.

Research and dissemination activities have included The X-Centric Futures Monthly Debates Program, a series of public seminars organized by Giovanbattista Tusa and Bartholomew Ryan which took place in 2022 at the Cultural Centre Carpintarias de São Lázaro, featuring the art collective Claire Fontaine on Magical Materialism; the musical performance Green Mass: The Ecological Theology of St. Hildegard of Bingen by Michael Marder, Peter Schuback, and Márcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback; the presentation of Uriel Orlow’s Imbizo Ka Mafavuke; and the screening and discussion of Bahar Noorizadeh’s After Scarcity and The Red City of the Planet Capitalism.

In 2023 the ADVANCED PROGRAMME IN X-CENTRIC FUTURE STUDIES will combine the research seminar with workshops (in presential and remote format)and a student-led reading group in Lisbon to promote the growth of research and artistic projects on emerging social movements, future political constellations, and x-centric communities.