Indigenous Futurisms Keynote
Sep14

Indigenous Futurisms Keynote

We were really thrilled to be able to host "Activism & Resistance," the 5th annual conference of the London Science Fiction Research Community (LSFRC), which ran from 9-11 September 2021. Prof. Grace Dillon (Portland State University) delivered a wonderful keynote on the subject of “Moozhig-aendum-itchigaewin: Indigenous Futurisms and Climate Justice.” You can watch Grace's inspiring keynote below, which was chaired by Birkbeck's very own Dr Katie Stone (Research Associate, Department of English, Theatre & Creative Writing, Birkbeck). The talk considers how indigenous science fictions can help us decolonise the geological period known as the Anthropocene, by drawing on a rich set of indigenous practices that advocate dignity and humility in not giving up in the face of more than 500 years of colonial violence.     Speaker bios: Grace L. Dillon is an American academic and author. She is an Anishinaabe Professor in the Indigenous Nations Studies Program, in the School of Gender, Race, and Nations, at Portland State University. Similar to the concept of Afrofuturism, Dillon is best known for coining the term Indigenous Futurism, which is a movement consisting of art, literature and other forms of media which express Indigenous perspectives of the past, present and future in the context of science fiction and related sub-genres. Dillon is the editor of Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction, which is the first anthology of Indigenous science fiction short stories, published by the University of Arizona Press in 2012. The anthology includes works from Gerald Vizenor, Leslie Marmon Silko, Sherman Alexie, William Sanders and Stephen Graham Jones. Previously, Dillon has edited Hive of Dreams: Contemporary Science Fiction from the Pacific Northwest, which was published in 2003 by Oregon State University Press. Dr Katie Stone is Research Associate in the School of Arts at Birkbeck, University of London. Katie's PhD, titled "Children are the Future: Utopianism and Childhood in Science Fiction and its Criticism," was successfully completed in Spring 2021. Her most recent publication, "Hungry for Utopia: An Antiwork Reading of Bram Stoker's Dracula," was published in the journal Utopian Studies in 2021.   Image by Ted McGrath under a CC BY-NC-SA...

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Brown Girl Like Me
Sep14

Brown Girl Like Me

Brown Girl Like Me: Reading and Q&A with Jaspreet Kaur   When: Friday 1st October 2021, 18:30 — 20:00 (BST) Venue: Online (booking required)   Jaspreet Kaur will be at Birkbeck for the start of Autumn Term, reading from her new memoir/manifesto Brown Girl Like Me. Brown Girl Like Me is an inspiring memoir-manifesto challenging existing portrayals of young South Asian women in the UK; providing a millennial perspective on how brown women navigate and balance the intersectionality of their identities in the new political climate.  This book asks and answers urgent questions about the current state of the world for young British Asian women through interviews with brown women across the country. Brown Girl Like Me aims to empower, support and equip brown women with the confidence and tools to navigate the difficulties that come with an intersectional identity, unpacking key issues such as the home, the media, the workplace, education, mental health, culture, confidence and the body. Find out more about the book here.  Jaspreet will be joined by Ben Pimlott, Birkbeck Writer in Residence. The event is a joint Birkbeck Politics and English event chaired by Ben Worthy (Centre for British Political Life) and Caroline Edwards (Centre for Contemporary Literature). You can watch the previous ‘In conversation event’ with Jaspreet Kaur from 26 Feb 2021 here.   Click here to book your free online place....

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Sunscape
Jun30

Sunscape

From ‘Radioastronomy (here comes the Sun)’ to ‘Sunscape’ by Inês Rebelo   Having organised ‘Radioastronomy (here comes the Sun)’ as part of Birkbeck Arts Weeks 2021, I wanted to write with a follow-up to the project. We received meaningful contributions of 11 participants across borders from Australia to Colombia, including Poland, Portugal and the UK. These combined cross 16 time zones and two hemispheres.  Collectively, each submitted image comes from artists, close family, computer programmers, gardeners, lecturers, lawyers and policy advisors. Each one with their unique experiences offered unexpected additions to ‘Sunscape’, enhancing it and shaping it in its own way. And yet, we wouldn’t be able to tell who contributed what, by looking at each image alone. Although this chapter is closed, with each and every participant receiving ‘Sunscape’ on the 21st June, solstice day of summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere, I envision the project to continue in the future. It could be open to other calls for participation across frontiers, or it can morph – transform itself into something else altogether, a new chapter.   Floating paintings ‘Sunscape’ emerged as ‘floating paintings’ moving up and sideways at various times by the computer screensaver. They acquire different sizes and positions, potentially generated ad infinitum but most likely simply during a very long cycle. We are in outer space. It’s black, it’s the expanse of the universe. We are space-framed but unbound in time, with the aid of the computer [1]. There are photographs of landscapes in different scales [2], some fogged by distant memory of Tarkovsky’s 1972 film Solaris, others sunburned by overlayers of hot gradients and one surprising moving image (!) repeated over three moments. It looks glossy, but it is a critic to our manipulations of light and nature to keep a socioeconomical model that is destroying our planet. Meanwhile, there is a real sunset remembering us that Sun existed before us, and it will exist after us. Warmly, patterns of light and shadows appear too, characteristic of real Sun imprints. Shadow-sun I saw the Sun in a vase when reading about mother Nature’s cycles and a mind map in hopeful blue intertwined with Spanish texts, including portmanteau words. Modern houses and sewage systems deprive us of the joy of seeing our personal excrement return to the earth and become an agent of growth. We poo into a ceramic bowl, and our production is flushed away. Not only do we never see it again, most of us have no idea where it goes and what happens to it. The closest substitute we can have to this cycle in an urban setting is compost. There...

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The Word for World is Forest: Writers Rebel Workshop
May27

The Word for World is Forest: Writers Rebel Workshop

Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash 5 June 2021, online At Writers Rebel, we believe it's time to write new stories, and find new ways of telling them. But how to begin?  Well, we believe it's important that writers get together, to exchange ideas and experiences, to learn from one another. To that end, we've organised The Word for World is Forest – a full day of masterclasses and writing workshops with four acclaimed writers. Each will give a unique and compelling vision of alternatives to conventional narratives. In his masterclass, novelist and CCL member Toby Litt will offer alternatives to the dominant screenwriting model of the Hero's Journey, while Laline Paull, acclaimed author of The Bees, will explore the radical empathy of writing from the non-human mind. Mythology, water, and rebellion are the starting-points for writer Charlotte Du Cann, from the ground-breaking Dark Mountain Project. And award-winning poet Dom Bury will dig deep into how our bodies and emotions can feed into verse.  All this is taking place online, on June 5th 2021. You can book here...

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Activism and Resistance: LSFRC Conference
May27

Activism and Resistance: LSFRC Conference

                          Artwork by Thomas Johnson. 9-11 September 2021, online Keynote Speakers: Grace Dillon, Radha D'Souza Guest Creators: Jeannette Ng, Rivers Solomon, Neon Yang 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...

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Decolonizing the University
May18

Decolonizing the University

  Invited Lecture by Dr Daniel Hartley (Durham University) 26 May 2021, 6-7.30pm BST online (booking required)   We will be joined by Dr Daniel Hartley (Durham University) for a research lecture and discussion. Titled “From Aesthetic Education to Anti-Imperial Literacy: On the Early Marx, Raymond Williams, and Decolonizing the University,” Dr Hartley’s talk will begin with a close reading of key passages from Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts, identifying a logic of aesthetic education that also informed Marx’s early theory of revolution, traces of which can still be found in the Grundrisse and Capital. In particular, it holds that for Marx the unfolding and / or redistribution of objective wealth is a necessary but insufficient condition for communism; it must be accompanied by a process of mass education that develops the subjective capacities necessary for the non-alienated appropriation and enjoyment of new objects. The second part of the talk then turns to a little-studied presidential address to the Classical Association given by Raymond Williams in 1984, entitled “Writing, Speech and the ‘Classical.’” This address develops a theory of anti-imperial literacy that will be read as a nuanced and detailed example of the process of aesthetic education implicit in Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts. The talk will then conclude with some brief reflections on the ways in which Marxist, cultural materialist frameworks might contribute to contemporary debates on decolonizing the university, whilst provisionally connecting those debates to a somewhat alternative historical and theoretical trajectory. This talk has developed out of two of Dr Hartley's recent publications – "The aesthetics of non-objectivity: From the worker’s two bodies to cultural revolution" in the Italian Journal of Aesthetics (2021) and "Anti-Imperial Literacy, the Humanities, and Universality in Raymond Williams’s Late Work" in Raymond Williams at 100, ed. Paul Stasi (2021).    Speaker Bio: Dr Daniel Hartley is Assistant Professor in World Literatures in English at Durham University. His research focuses on literary style, ‘world literature’ and the historical sociology of modernity. Daniel’s first book, The Politics of Style: Towards a Marxist Poetics (Brill: 2017), developed a systematic theory of literary style through an immanent critique of the work of Raymond Williams, Terry Eagleton and Fredric Jameson. Daniel has since continued to refine his thinking on style in articles for Poetics Today, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Literary Theory, and Textual Practice.   You can visit our CCL YouTube channel to watch the recording of Dr Hartley's guest lecture and Q&A or preview below.   Featured image by UCL Occupation under a CC BY-SA...

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