Afro-Gothic: Black Horror and the Relentless Haunting of Traumatic Pasts

deadline for submissions: 
February 28, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Special Issue, Peer-Reviewed Journal on Black Aesthetics
contact email: 

Afro-Gothic: Black Horror and the Relentless Haunting of Traumatic Pasts

Call for Papers

Afro-Gothic: Black Horror and the Relentless Haunting of Traumatic Pasts is a special issue of a peer-reviewed academic journal that will explore how black artists deploy the gothic as an aesthetic means of working through the trauma of colonial slavery. Although the Gothic genre is widely discussed as a purely European tradition, the gothic manifests as a global phenomenon; every culture embraces its own ghost stories, monster tales, or myths about creatures with supernatural powers. This project examines how the tropes of the gothic—with its constructions of the monstrous, the villainous, the mad and the haunted—take on wholly different valences when they are studied within the contexts of blackness, particularly under the modern colonial project. In our view, one important characteristic of the Afro-Gothic that distinguishes it from its European counterpart is its rootedness in lived black experiences. The Afro-Gothic often addresses the everydayness of black horror in ways that attest to the repetitive violence against black bodies and the relentless haunting of traumatic pasts.

We seek works that expand and explode generic definitions of the Gothic and highlight the ways in which we navigate a contemporary moment haunted by a collective colonial past. In what ways does the Afro-Gothic serve to frame our understanding of black life through a prism of organized terror?

Possible topics to explore might include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • colonial hauntings – living among ghosts and the walking dead
  • the plight of the hunted and state-sanctioned violence
  • dark tourism and haunted houses
  • maritime Afro-Gothic – nautical narratives
  • medical experimentation and the trope of the mad scientist
  • miscegenation, hybridity, and the bodily mash-up
  • conjuring, the witch doctor and practitioners of the dark arts
  • urban decay and environmentalism – climate crisis, toxicities, eco-gothic and natural disasters
  • Afro-Gothic and new technologies, soundscapes, surveillance, cyber-haunting, ghost in the machine
  • menageries of the grotesque and public display of monstrosity
  • cannibalization and ‘Eating the Other’
  • sexual exploitation and gendered violence
  • bondage, dungeons, incarcerations, and the restricted body

Essays must be written in English, but we encourage international submissions on all African Diasporic Afro-Gothic topics. Accepted works will be included in our proposal for a special issue of a open access, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to black studies and aesthetics. Please submit an abstract (300 words) along with a brief bio to

The deadline for submissions is February 28, 2021.

Tashima Thomas, Editor
Pratt Institute

Sybil Newton Cooksey, Editor
New York University