Online Conference: Science Fiction: Activism and Resistance, 9 – 11 September, 2021 (deadline 30 June)

London Science Fiction Research Community (LSFRC)

Keynote Speakers: Grace Dillon, Radha D’Souza
Guest Creators: Jeannette Ng, Rivers Solomon, Neon Yang

contact email: lsfrcmail@gmail.com

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 WorldsTemporary Autonomous ZoneDeciding for Ourselves: The Promise of Direct DemocracyOvercoming BurnoutFreedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a MovementBeyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice MovementMutual Aid: Building Solidarity in This Crisis (and the nextGlitch FeminismThe Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Self-LoveTraditions, Tyranny, and Utopia: Essays on the Politics of Awareness

Texts on class revolution and socio-economic reform: The Society of the SpectacleTraditions, Tyranny, and Utopia: Essays on the Politics of AwarenessThe Precariat: The New Dangerous ClassPost-capitalist DesireSocial Class in the 21st Century

Texts on intersectional feminisms: Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social JusticeLiving a Feminist LifeUtopian Bodies and the Politics of TransgressionBodyMinds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative FictionHow We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River CollectiveUnapologetic: A Black, Queer, Feminist Mandate for Radical MovementsHood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement ForgotGlitch FeminismFeminism in Play

Texts on queer rights and justice: Cruising Utopia: the Then and There of Queer FuturityTransgender History: Roots of Todays RevolutionUnapologetic: A Black, Queer, Feminist Mandate for Radical MovementsQueer PhenomenologiesQueer Universes: Sexualities in Science FictionI 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 StudyThe Wretched of the EarthBlack Utopias: Speculative Life and the Music of Other WorldsThe Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black TechnopoeticsThere Ain’t no Black in the Union JackOctavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social JusticeDecolonizing Science Fiction and Imagining Futures: An Indiginous Futurisms roundtable (Strange Horizons)Liberating Sápmi: Indigenous Resistance in Europe’s Far NorthFrom a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai’iIntersectional Tech: Black Users in Digital GamingRace After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code; Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday LifeDistributed Blackness: African American CyberculturesAs 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 ActivismRevolting ProstitutesKnow My NameDis/Consent: Perspectives on Sexual Consent and ViolencePost-capitalist DesireThe Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Self-Love

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

Texts on digital activism and technological futures: Perfecting Human Futures: Transhuman Visions and Technological ImaginationsThe Freudian Robot: Digital Media ad the Future of the UnconsciousPlaying Nature: Ecology in Video GamesIntersectional Tech: Black Users in Digital GamingWoke Gaming: Digital Challenges to Oppression and Social JusticeFeminism in PlayDesign Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need; Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim CodeCaptivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday LifeDistributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures

Texts on eco-sustainability and environmental justice: Playing Nature: Ecology in Video GamesArts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the AnthropoceneEngage, Connect, Protect: Empowering Diverse Youth as Environmental LeadersEnvironmental Justice in a Moment of DangerAs 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

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