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Science Fiction: Activism and Resistance (Virtual Conference)

Organization: London Science Fiction Research Community (LSFRC)
Event: Virtual Conference
Categories: Postcolonial, Digital Humanities, Graduate Conference, Hispanic & Latino, Comparative, Interdisciplinary, Popular Culture, Gender & Sexuality, Literary Theory, Women's Studies, World Literatures, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy, African & African Diasporas, Asian & Asian Diasporas, Australian Literature, Canadian Literature, Caribbean & Caribbean Diasporas, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle East, Native American, Scandinavian, Pacific Literature
Event Date: 2021-09-09 to 2021-09-11 Abstract Due: 2021-06-30

9-11 September 2021, online

Keynote Speakers: Grace Dillon, Radha D’Souza

Guest Creators: Jeannette Ng, Rivers Solomon, Neon Yang

In an age when Me Too, Black Lives Matter, Decolonise the Curriculum, Refugees Welcome, and movements for global solidarity with oppressed populations have become part of mainstream discourse, it is vital to re-examine the relationship between activism, resistance and the mass imagination vis-a-vis science fiction. As a genre dedicated to imagining alternatives, science fiction is an inherently radical space which allows for diverse explorations of dissent. It is, also, a space that has been rightfully critiqued for its historic inequities favouring white cishet men (as recently addressed by Jeanette Ng during the 2019 Hugo Awards among others). There needs to be reckoning with how precarious bodies engage in activism and resistance in the context of their material realities and restrictions. Therefore, we must deny universalising a single experience as “radical enough” and instead acknowledge how communities in the margins – queer, trans, disabled, neurodivergent, BIPOC, immigrants and refugees, religious minorities, indigenous populations, casualised workers, the homeless and unemployed – have specific ways of subverting and undermining the system, as well as specific stakes and reasons to do so. It is imperative to not only revisit how science fiction has been a space for activism and resistance, but also resist and challenge the genre’s shortcomings.

For our 2021 conference, the LSFRC welcomes submissions that explore the theme of “Activism and Resistance.” We recognise the urgency of this theme and the broad ways in which it can be interpreted and applied. We welcome contributions that explore SF as the site of activism and resistance, critical reflections of activism and resistance against SF’s tradition so far, and broader contributions on the topics of activism and resistance. We are especially keen to welcome practitioners, activists, change-makers and dissidents who are working to create a more equitable world. We do not adhere to strict reading of the term SF; instead, we encourage a widening of the genre to highlight and uplift different voices and perspectives. We invite proposals for papers, panels, workshops, protest and disruption sessions, performances, installations, and creative responses to the theme, and we would like to actively encourage alternative and innovative forms of presentation and engagement.

We are aware that academic conferences often have barriers to access and if you have any specific concerns, please do reach out, especially as the online format carries its own challenges (and benefits). We hope we can alleviate some of these concerns with the reassurance that paying for registration is completely optional. 

Please email proposals (300 words + 50 word author bios) and/or enquiries to lsfrcmail@gmail.com by 30th June. For this conference, we are organising a track on gaming, SF and activism + resistance. If you would like to be considered for this track, please indicate this in your proposal. 

Possible topics include:

Depictions and history of protest in SF
Anti-capitalism, anti-authoritarianism, anti-imperialism and decolonisation, and other anti-establishment politics in SF
Utopia, dystopia, ustopia
Politics of the margins in SF – queerness, disability, race and ethnicity, nationality, religious minorities and caste, immigrants and refugees
Reproductive justice in SF
Depictions of class, class warfare and social reproduction
Climate justice in SF
Futurisms from specific race and ethnic perspectives – Afrofuturism, Indigenous futurisms, Asian and South Asian futurisms
Reform, rebellion and revolution in SF
Cyberpunk, steampunk, dieselpunk, silkpunk, Afropunk, solarpunk, acid communism as forms of dissent
Specific SF response to contemporary activist movements – Trans Justice, Me Too, Black Lives Matter, Refugees Welcome, and others
Critiques of established/Western SF
Challenges to the canon
Limits of accessibility in SF
Limits and critiques of genre writing
Lack of diversity versus tokenism in SF
Value of #OwnVoices
Toxic fandom and gatekeeping
Suggested Reading:

Texts on collective action, community change, and strategies of care: Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds; Temporary Autonomous Zone; Deciding for Ourselves: The Promise of Direct Democracy; Overcoming Burnout; Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement; Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement; Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity in This Crisis (and the next; Glitch Feminism; The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Self-Love; Traditions, Tyranny, and Utopia: Essays on the Politics of Awareness

Texts on class revolution and socio-economic reform: The Society of the Spectacle; Traditions, Tyranny, and Utopia: Essays on the Politics of Awareness; The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class; Post-capitalist Desire; Social Class in the 21st Century

Texts on intersectional feminisms: Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice; Living a Feminist Life; Utopian Bodies and the Politics of Transgression; BodyMinds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction; How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective; Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements; Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot; Glitch Feminism; Feminism in Play

Texts on queer rights and justice: Cruising Utopia: the Then and There of Queer Futurity; Transgender History: Roots of Todays Revolution; Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements; Queer Phenomenologies; Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction; I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl’s Notes from the End of the World

Texts on critical race theory, racial justice and decolonisation: The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study; The Wretched of the Earth; Black Utopias: Speculative Life and the Music of Other Worlds; The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics; There Ain’t no Black in the Union Jack; Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice; Decolonizing Science Fiction and Imagining Futures: An Indiginous Futurisms roundtable (Strange Horizons); Liberating Sápmi: Indigenous Resistance in Europe’s Far North; From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai’i; Intersectional Tech: Black Users in Digital Gaming; Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code; Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life; Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures; As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock

Texts on bodily autonomy, reproductive justice and sex work: Pleasure Activism; Revolting Prostitutes; Know My Name; Dis/Consent: Perspectives on Sexual Consent and Violence; Post-capitalist Desire; The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Self-Love

Texts on disability justice and care work: Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice; BodyMinds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction; Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the 21st Century

Texts on digital activism and technological futures: Perfecting Human Futures: Transhuman Visions and Technological Imaginations; The Freudian Robot: Digital Media ad the Future of the Unconscious; Playing Nature: Ecology in Video Games; Intersectional Tech: Black Users in Digital Gaming; Woke Gaming: Digital Challenges to Oppression and Social Justice; Feminism in Play; Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need; Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code; Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life; Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures

Texts on eco-sustainability and environmental justice: Playing Nature: Ecology in Video Games; Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene; Engage, Connect, Protect: Empowering Diverse Youth as Environmental Leaders; Environmental Justice in a Moment of Danger; As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock

Acceptance speeches and calls to action:

Jeannette Ng’s 2019 speech for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer (written speech and recorded speech), Elsa Sjunneson’s 2019 Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine acceptance speech (written speech), N.K Jemisin’s 2018 Hugo award for Best Novel acceptance speech (written speech and recorded speech)

A FIYAHCON Retrospective 

To Build a Future Without Police and Prisons, We Have to Imagine It First //OR// Rewriting the Future

Using Science Fiction to Re-Envision Justice