Societies around the globe are now confronting a triple crisis that threatens not only civil order but also the very existence of certain forms of life: (1) financial collapse which increased the awareness of mass inequality, (2) climate change and the ensuing environmental uncertainty, and (3) the rise of ethno-nationalisms which threaten representative democracies. These material and political challenges have been accompanied by a depletion of the cultural resources that enable imagining non-apocalyptic futures. Yet, these crises are not novel. Many groups in the periphery—geographic, economic, and cultural—were and are already living through the uneven distribution of the apocalypse. Science fiction (SF) has emerged as a privileged symbolic field for the expression of hopes and anxieties that drive both culture and tech industries. Whether seen as a form of productive pessimism or liberatory theory, SF from the margins is deployed as a political tool for enacting change in the present.
In this course, we will tackle the construction of these crises by reading scholarly literature from science and technology studies (STS), queer and postcolonial studies, works of fiction, and movie screenings. Each course meeting will start with some framing remarks from the instructors, followed by a screening, and then discussion of the readings. Course participants will have the option of completing a fiction writing exercise (see description below) to be pre-circulated and discussed in the final session.