Who Gets To Imagine The Future? Science Fiction, Fantasy, Futurities

One of Birmingham’s most famous literary exports is J.R.R.Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s legacy is controversial; his fiction’s racism bleeds into the way writers have imagined different worlds through fantasy. At the same time, Birmingham is the home of afrofuturists, memory workers and decolonialists, finding ways to create alternative trajectories and sustainable futures for us all. On this panel we consider the colonial roots of science fiction and fantasy writing and how writers are responding (or ignoring!) those conventions. When writing about alternative universes or imagining the future, how do we not reproduce colonial power relations and forms? Why is it ‘mythology’ when it’s a non-white writer and ‘fantasy’ when it’s a white writer? Who gets to imagine the future?




Panellists: Florence Okoye, Lerah Mae Barcenilla, Jennifer Makumbi and Corey Brotherson
Chair: Sumaya Kassim