• Globalization, Postcolonialism, and Science Fiction: Nomadic Transgressions

      Kurtz, Malisa; Interdisciplinary Humanities Program
      This dissertation seeks to establish science fiction as a critical framework for interrogating contemporary neocolonial structures. Specifically, I examine the ways an emerging subgenre of “postcolonial science fiction” provides valuable conceptual tools for imagining what postcolonial relations might look like in an era defined by globalization and multinational capitalism. By linking a critique of the genre’s colonial drive to the logic of advanced capitalism, postcolonial science fiction offers a critical lens through which to examine the continuation of contemporary neocolonial structures. For example, postcolonial science fiction questions several of the assumptions that underpin science fiction, including the genre’s colonial gaze, the appeal to an ideology of progress, focus on the “future” and the construction of an assumed cosmopolitan future, and an implicit faith in technological solutions or the inclination towards techno-optimism. Postcolonial science fiction links these generic qualities to the dominance of certain ideological frameworks in contemporary neoliberal culture, revealing the colonial underpinnings of both genre and the “real-world” socio-historical contexts from which genres emerge. Importantly, postcolonial science fiction is also constructivist, offering alternative epistemological frameworks for understanding our relationship to the future beyond colonial paradigms. Through the process of deconstructing and reconstructing sf’s colonial assumptions, I see postcolonial science fiction produced from diverse national contexts as expressions of a transnational desire to understand such questions as: what do we need to do so that tomorrow is not characterized by the violence against others we exhibit today? Or, more specifically, how can we create new visions of “postcolonialism” that will materialize into more ethical practice? By explicitly foregrounding these questions postcolonial science fiction transforms the genre’s world building into a strategy of postcolonial experimentation that strives to understand the complexity of problems facing diverse global communities. Postcolonial studies might also benefit from thinking through the lens of science fiction, where creative projects function as ethical experiments towards mapping out the possibilities of transnational affiliation. As this study emphasizes, I therefore see postcolonial science fiction as simultaneously a subgenre and a process, strategy, or mode of relation established between people committed to imagining less exploitative futures.