¿Queer Brown Futures?: Utopia & Apocalypse in Latina/o Speculative Fiction

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Maia Gil'Adi and John Ribo
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José Esteban Muñoz's Cruising Utopia opens with an epigraph from Oscar Wilde: "A map of the world that does not include utopia is not worth glancing at." For Wilde, utopia is vital because it sets the course of human progress like a future destination humanity strives for but never reaches. Similarly, Muñoz reformulates queerness—and might we add brownness?—as utopian, as futurity, as potentiality, as that which lets us feel the limits of the here and now in order to dream better possibilities.

Today, however, the apocalyptic rather than the utopian seemingly dominates popular culture. Violent images from the U.S.-Mexico border, Ukraine, Iraq, Gaza, Liberia, and Missouri inundate our news-feeds and social media streams. Fiction, films, television, video games, comics and other media reenact the destruction of our world over and over. Why? What pleasures might we derive from the apocalyptic and violent potentialities these realities present us? What histories might we exorcise in this constant repetition of violence on a massive scale? If, as Muñoz insists, utopia helps us imagine better possibilities for a future "then and there," how does the future look through the lens of apocalypse? Is apocalypse merely destructive or does it offer its own futurity, potentiality, and critical leverage?

Our panel explores these tensions between utopia and apocalypse in Latina/o cultural production operating under the rubrics of speculative fiction, Sci-Fi, and other popular genres. Moreover, our papers delve into the recent trend in contemporary Latino literature of authors working in speculative fiction to explore how the genre is deeply involved in current socio-political discussions of Latino/a inclusion and exclusion from narratives of national progress, immigration, "illegality" and citizenship. Our panel importantly demonstrates the ways authors of color, through their use of utopian and apocalyptic fiction represent corporeal and metaphorical monstrosity and instances of haunting that invoke post/apocalyptic (dys)utopian realities that transform/queer history and index the social in new unseen ways.

Please submit your proposal/ideas by September 1, 2014 to Maia Gil'Adi (mgiladi@email.gwu.edu).