Nnedi Okorafor: Destruction and Wholeness in African (and African-American) Science Fiction and Fantasy (Special Session)

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Graeme Wend-Walker / Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association
contact email: 

**DEADLINE EXTENDED! Proposals Welcome Until Sessions Are Filled**

Please note: This cfp updates and expands the parameters of the session previously titled "Nnedi Okorafor: Destruction and Wholeness." We now welcome papers encompassing other authors of Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism, and Afrofuturist authors dealing with similar themes. The deadline has also been extended.

118th Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association Annual Conference, Las Vegas: "CITY OF GOD, CITY OF DESTRUCTION" (Thursday, November 11 - Sunday, November 14, 2021 at Sahara Las Vegas Hotel, hosted by University of Nevada, Las Vegas)



African and African-American tales of science fiction and fantasy build possibilities out of pasts and presents that are often marked by destruction while remaining alert to its future reoccurrence. Whether in the Afrofuturism of Octavia Butler’s Parable series or Nnedi Okorafor’s works of Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism, destruction can be transformative and even a source of renewal. Sometimes, the destructive element becomes reincorporated into the whole, or is revealed to have always been part of it. Sometimes, it is as close to home as the protagonist herself. This session welcomes any approach to destruction and wholeness in African and African American science fiction and fantasy, but proposals are particularly welcome that explore the complex ways in which Okorafor’s writing explores destruction as part of a larger wholeness.


Societies around the globe have recently found themselves, in a sense, united by destruction as they share in the common threat of a pandemic and a common goal to eradicate it. At the same time, in the United States, we have seen multiple threats converge to threaten the destruction of our democracy. Conventionally, such threats are often constructed as alien to an original wholeness, as if society was well (more or less), but a destructive disease came along and corrupted it from outside. While such constructions often make a certain amount of sense (especially where a particular threat has been identified for eradication), they may also obscure ways of seeing and understanding that don’t neatly fit into such categories. Nnedi Okorafor’s writing interrogates many forms of binary thinking, guided by a kind of voracious intellectual commitment to the possibilities that may emerge when we are willing to stop saying either/or. We see this especially in her exploration of binarisms such as human/animal, human/machine, and life/death. In Okorafor’s recent novel, Remote Control, for example, a young girl becomes the Adopted Daughter of Death through her contact with an alien artifact and discovers she has the power to annihilate. Her journey into understanding her new identity threatens any number of other oppositions – as an NPR reviewer puts it, “between worship and fear, between machine and flesh, between corporation and culture, and between death and reclamation.” In a world where the greatest potential for destruction may lie in our tendency to define all things through antagonistic opposition, Okorafor’s work invites us, even pushes us, to rethink how we think. Panelists will explore these themes in Okorafor’s work and/or in the work of other authors exploring similar territory.

Please submit your abstract here: https://pamla.ballastacademic.com/Home/S/18272

Please send any inquiries to Graeme Wend-Walker (graeme@txstate.edu)