Indigenous Futurisms from Latin America

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Tara Daly, Marquette University
contact email: 

Seeking 300 word abstracts on the topic of Indigenous Futurisms in Latin America for the 2020 MLA conference in Seattle, Washington. They may be sent to: by MARCH 15th, 2019. 

Indigenous Futurisms from Latin America: 2000-20XX

MLA Panel Proposal

January 9-12th 2020 Seattle


Aymara architect Freddy Mamani combines design strategies and motifs from Tiwanaku to create urban buildings in El Alto, Bolivia that celebrate Aymara identity and calls upon robotic and machine-like imagery to project contemporary indigenous identity into an uncharted future. Audiovisual artist Fidel Eljuri, based in Quito, Ecuador, composes music and visual performances through collaboration with the shipibo communities of the Amazon. His work “aims to create new cognitive tools achieved in the form of time-based digital sculptures and site-specific installations” that center on the relationship between humans and other life forms as a key to a sustainable ecosystem. And Luis Carcamo-Huechante’s work on mapuche audiovisual artists and musicians in Santiago frames recent mapuche soundscapes as interruptions within a colonial sonic regime.  These are only a few examples of aesthetic projects that are also political critiques of the legacies of coloniality and the relegation of indigenous peoples to places under erasure and times that have passed. They are also critical interventions in the present with a view to an indigenous future for the planet.

This panel asks if the concept of indigenous futurisms, or “futurismos indígenas,” is useful for drawing comparisons and cohesion between 21st-century aesthetic projects in Abia-Yala. The panel proposes to think about the term from new perspectives that add to ongoing discussions occurring amongst other native artists, scholars, and allies. The term “indigenous futurism” was coined by Grace L. Dillon (Anishinaabe) in the context of Native American, First Nations, Aboriginal Australian, and New Zealand Maori authors in her edited book Walking the Clouds (2012). This first ever anthology of indigenous science fiction reframes some authors who have been read under the rubric of “magical realism,” a genre that originated in the territories now known as Latin America.Indigenous futurism might be described as an artistic movement that subverts colonialism by reimagining space exploration, whether on earth or beyond it, from a non-colonial perspective. In the territories of Abia-Yala, what forms do indigenous futurisms take, in literature, music, film, or the visual arts? Looking beyond, but including the science fiction genre, indigenous futurisms hinge upon combining new technologies with ancestral technologies in surprising and contradictory ways that expose the failure of a uniform Western “modernity.” Indigenous peoples might be said to already have survived a form of apocalypse in the unfinished project of colonization. Their territories have been invaded and they have been made to feel “alien” in their own lands, but they have nevertheless resisted, adapted, and thrived through strategies of cultural, linguistic, and political activism and adaptation. Now, as the environmental crisis looms, indigenous knowledge systems may well be key to ecosystem survival. Indigenous futurisms as manifested in the arts are plural and might be theorized from different vantage points, especially given the often non-linear conceptions of time-space in indigenous cultures. This panel is an effort to start developing a concept of indigenous futurisms from Abia-Yala as well as to explore examples of the same in practice.


Please send 300 word abstracts to Tara Daly: by March 15th 2019.