Chronofeminism

By Bayo Akomolafe, re-posted from Facebook (08.14.22)

I’m of the Yoruba people of West Nigeria and some parts of West Africa. We don’t think of time as an arrow of God flowing from a fixed past through the elusive present, and to an always fugitive future. That notion of time being a straight line is missing from our cosmology. Time is slushy. It’s not even cyclical. It’s slushy— it falls in on itself. It’s rhizomatic. And in this sense, the past is yet to come (to quote Karen Barad); the past is not yet done; the future has already happened. This notion of time is melty and trickly. Sugary and sticky. It is what allows us to face ancestry as a serious matter in civilizational endings. It’s the invitation for us to sit with the past—with the crack of time—and do other kinds of work there.

If time were a river, it would be fed and heavily nurtured by rivulets and tributaries and pockets of flows. I refuse to subscribe to an understanding of time as uniform duration, as progress, as a pre-relational quality of existence. My orientation to time invites me to disrupt an understanding of the continuous future through a concept that I call chronofeminism, which is a concept I deploy to signal time displaced from its imperial march from past to future. The performative, temporal, and physical arrangements that we rudely call ‘time’, that we reduce to the future (and even to an unchanging ‘history’), is only one particular arrangement. There are other ways of being temporarily assigned to the future, the past, and the present. My work is mostly about sitting in those cracks of time and sensing what other voices want to be heard.

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