This introductory essay and accompanying special issue of ARTMargins explore the role of African socialisms in contemporary art. Artists looking at Africa's radical history face the challenge of responding to a generalized amnesia about the continent's protagonism on intellectual and political radicalism after 1945. Working with under-researched themes, scarce historical records, and apprehensive oral sources, these artists are often tasked to amplify forgotten pasts while simultaneously critiquing the political contingency of historical investigation in global contemporary art. Global contemporary art—largely shaped by the neoliberal transition that followed the very histories explored by these artists—is often shown in its limitation to engage with socialist history critically. Through the authors’ analyses, many artworks nuance discussion of the erasures, fixed narratives, and nostalgia for Africa's socialist past. Looking to this past, artists attempt to reorganize contemporaneity and its typical disregard for history beyond romanticization. Talho (2014), a work by Mozambican photographer Filipe Branquinho, is analyzed as a case study raising central questions on contemporary artists’ engagement with Africa's socialist past.

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