SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

'Science Fiction Beyond the West: Futurity in African and Asian Contexts' Symposium at SOAS


Date: 12 July 2019Time: 8:00 AM

Finishes: 12 July 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B104

Type of Event: Symposium

The contested space of the future, how it is envisioned and theorized, and what this reveals about our present moment is an area of increased academic inquiry in the humanities and social sciences.  The urgency of paying attention to what is to come becomes ever clearer, with the proliferation of discourses about looming threats and the “cancellation” of the future (Berardi), as well as what Kodwo Eshun has described as “digitopian futures [...] routinely invoked to hide the present in all its unhappiness”.

This symposium is interested in exploring how the futures imagined in African and Asian contexts key into social issues, explore cultural anxieties and experiment with alternative realities and possibilities. How have speculative genres evolved in different cultures and communities outside the West? What does it mean for artists, activists and writers in these regions to imagine and anticipate the future, and how do their visions of tomorrow speak to and illuminate the present moment? Do we take prevalent dystopian visions as a critique of pacifying promises about futures always still to come, or do such grim visions cripple political imagination and action and the ability to envision better tomorrows? How do we address the invocation of threatening futures while also being aware of how current discourses relegate some threats, including gendered violence, economic precarity, and environmental crises, to the margins of the conversation?

Our aim is to have a conversational gathering, establishing a network of researchers for future collaborations. Students and early career researchers encouraged to apply.

Please send an abstract (250-300 words) and short bio to

The deadline for submitting abstracts is 31 May.

Notification of acceptance will be sent out by 12 June.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Theorising decoloniality and the future
  • Dystopia/utopia
  • Postcolonial science fiction
  • Futurity and new media/genres
  • Alternative/ avant-garde imaginaries of futurity
  • Imagined futures and revolutions
  • Feminism/gender studies and futurity
  • Environmental studies and post-extractive future