Sergi Selvas: Borders in the Beyond: Aspects of Coloniality in Science Fiction

Advisor/tutor: Marina Vishmidt
Arnhem, June 2017


This work applies critiques of coloniality to the content of science fiction films (sci-fi), in order to see how sci-fi allows us to reframe, repeat, or go beyond the problems of contemporary existence in the modern/colonial world. Sci-fi, I will argue, in offering portals to alternative realities invites us to explore and discover new spaces where we may vicariously experience freedom along with new forms of creativity and technology. However, we face barriers in accessing the latent potentials of this medium. Their circumnavigation requires one to take the quantum leap: the overcoming of ourselves, our historical baggage, in this world beyond. Wherever we go these histories, i.e., millions of years of evolution, are inserted in our human bodies, concepts, and perceptions.

The overcoming of such barriers will hence necessarily involve confronting the problematic of colonialism and its much broader epistemic conditionings, coloniality: the general redefinition of culture, labor, intersubjective relations, and knowledge production beyond the boundaries of colonial institutions.(1) Here I analyse the construction of human and non-human natures alongside the alien bodies and extraterrestrial stories depicted in sci-fi narratives - introducing and contextualizing the modern/colonial world system and its mechanisms (on one hand), while drawing critical contrast and comparison with the sci-fi worlds that interrogate, reflect, and transcend our present conditionings. The following chapters use contemporary scholarship on the modern/colonial world system to explore how sci-fi depicts human and non-human beings, earthly and extraterrestrial ecosystems, and systems of power and relationship. 

(1) Aníbal Quijano, ‘Coloniality of Power and Eurocentrism in Latin America’. International Sociology 15.2 (2000): 215–232. Print.