Christopher Columbus: Our Original Invader from Mars

_invaders_from_mars_poster_Originally written in 2013, this is the final chapter in a three-part installment on Christopher Columbus beginning with The Other Explorers and Hunting Prestor John in the End Times. This post ponders how the destruction of the Americas, and the accompanying legacies of colonialism and slavery, help shape the fears of our popular imaginings–including science fiction.

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Appropriating The Self- Revisiting The Africa of Our Imaginations

200px-Imaro4In the wake of a controversy over who the culture of an entire continent belongs to within the context of its far-flung descendants (many quite involuntarily flung at that), I revisit a set of blog posts I wrote several years ago regarding speculative fiction, world building, “appropriation” and the Africa of our imaginations. Can one appropriate the self?

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Early Black Writers, Speculative Fiction and Confronting Racial Terror

BlakeIn the bleakest of moments African-American writers have turned to literature to confront racial terror and the trauma it could induce–turning to poetry, personal narratives, plays and novels. Sometimes, they even dreamed of the fantastic.

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People Are Alike All Over: The Human Zoo

humanzoogermanyIn the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as race science blended with the new colonial imperialism, “human zoos” became all the rage in the west. Placed into “natural habitats,” adorned in “traditional dress” and sometimes behind bars, people from “exotic” lands were put on display for a gawking public. All of this to prove the racial theories of the day–that people after all were not alike all over.

Art- Poster of the “Peoples Show” (Völkerschau) in Stuttgart (Germany), 1928

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Can Photos Lie?- Images from the Colonial Imaginary

Ovambo woman 1936Much of the mental imagery we conjure of the non-Western world in the past century come from endless photos–often of varied peoples in fantastic headdress, wrapped in “exotic” clothing and striking regal poses. For artists, creators and those looking for “authenticity” or understandings of cultures and peoples seemingly “lost in time,” these images are invaluable. But how authentic are such glimpses of the past? Especially when constructed through a colonial lens? Can photos…lie?

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Fantasy’s “Othering” Fetish

300_immortalsA minor kerfuffle on race and representation was kicked up following last Sunday’s season finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

 

 

 

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