(MELUS) Defamiliarizing the Racialized Present: Speculative Fictions by Writers of Color

deadline for submissions: 
October 26, 2019
full name / name of organization: 

Seeking abstracts on papers on speculative fictions by writers of color for a panel at MELUS 2020. Please send an abstract (200-300 words) and a short bio to sd3188@nyu.edu and ml973@english.rutgers.edu by October 26th, 2019

In the opening of In the Wake, Christina Sharpe writes of how difficult it is to get people to think about blackness and what it means to live in a nation founded on antiblackness. Ultimately, she makes a breakthrough with her students by showing them a film, Claude Lanzmann's Shoah, in which a Holocaust survivor returns to a Polish town only hear the townspeople say at first that they are glad to see him, only to then blame Jewish people for their own murder. She asks her students to imagine if he, after the war, had no place to go other than to return to this country. Through a traumatic history, happening elsewhere, they begin to confront what it is like to live in post-Civil War United States. In other words, Sharpe suggests that acts of defamiliarization are central to confronting "the inability to think about blackness and to think slavery as state violence" in the US. Similarly, Sami Schalk argues that the defamiliarization we experience by reading works of speculative fiction can be "intellectually and politically productive" when dealing with questions of disability, race, and gender.

This panel asks how speculative forms of imagining could elucidate racialized being, as well as offering ways of imagining new forms of living. In particular, how does speculative fiction by writers of color help us both to theorize the colonialiality of the U.S. present and past, and to provide more just and inclusive visions of decolonized futures?