This article considers recent films by the artist John Akomfrah (b. 1957, Ghana). It argues that Vertigo Sea, The Airport, and Purple exemplify a new phase of black British art production. While building on the methods and themes that characterize his time with the Black Audio Film Collective, these projects exemplify ways in which diasporic histories provide crucial insights into the early twenty-first century—notably around questions of national sovereignty, spaces of flow and mobility, and human interventions in shared ecosystems. Ultimately, these films present a way of “doing history,” a form of visual genealogy Akomfrah calls “an essay” that is suited to a landscape in which fixed temporal or spatial narratives are no longer adequate.

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