Speculative forays in Terran ruins: Posthuman and fictional possibilities

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Maurepas, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Organizers: Franklin Ginn, Patrick Bresnihan, Naomi Millner
Chairs: Franklin Ginn


This session and the following panel discussion will explore the possibilities of life within and beyond capitalist ruins by thinking with and/or presenting original pieces of speculative fiction. The imminent possibility of super-typhoons, tsunamis and eco-apocalyptic catastrophe provides endless fodder for media outlets and film studios that thrive off popular fears about the future (Lilley et al., 2012). From another perspective, them imagined ruins of capitalist civilization can also provide a source of escape and possibiilty beyond such apolitical, hopeless narratives; a place for experimenting with radically different scenarios (Bater, 2016; Yusoff & Gabrys 2011). It is this second perspective, and the rich vein of literary and visual work it has given rise to, that we aim to explore in this session. We are particularly interested in drawing out the diversity of progressive and radical speculative fictions: while they may share a defiant refusal of the dead-end catastrophism represented in much mainstream sci-fi, they also offer many different visions of what a more hopeful future looks like, how it will be achieved, and who or what will be involved. As well as exploring the differences and tensions between different visions of the future, we are interested in exploring the ambiguities and unresolved questions that often animate individual works and writers, and how these are brought to the surface.

The four papers and following panel session will address questions including the following:
* How can we better understand/describe the crossovers between feminist sci-fi and experimental forms of writing emerging within the environmental humanities, particularly those that use multispecies ethnographies to explore frontiers of (post)human existence 'in capitalist ruins' (Tsing, 2016)?
* How is agency conceived of in different speculative fictions? Who or what are the protagonists of socio-ecological change and how does this differ from (or reproduce) dominant theories of political change?
* How have speculative fictions responded to the ‘limits to growth’ without resorting to dystopian Malthusianism? How do such narratives relate to/support concepts like degrowth (see Kallis & March, 2016)?
* How have speculative fictions addressed new technologies without resorting to conservative reaction or techno-utopianism (Heise & Robinson, 2016, Wark, 2015)? How might such nuanced accounts inform debates and struggles around the in/justices of ‘green’ technologies?
* How can we distinguish different imaginative fabrics that explorelife in (post)capitalist ruins, and from what sources do they emerge? How and where do solidarity, love, humour, and hope take root (and possibly flourish) when taken-for-granted infrastructures and systems collapse (Bresnihan, 2017)?
* How can speculative fictions expand affective registers for coping in the Anthropocene - helping us feel more than guilt or sadness at the loss of species or plastic waste, for example?
* How can speculative fictions contribute to decolonial and feminist engagements with (post)human existence in and beyond capitalist ruins?


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Naomi Millner*, University of Bristol, Patrick Bresnihan*, , Changing aesthetic climates: An introduction to key questions 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Freya Johnson*, University of Bristol, Moving Kiruna: Speculating a Utopia of Perseverance 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Peter Kirby*, University of Oxford, Excavating Robotic Waste 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Dylan M Harris*, Clark University, Deranged, Dithering, and Precarious: “Post-truth” and Climate Change 20 9:00 AM

To access contact information login