How can science fiction contribute to doing social sciences otherwise?
On February 17th, 2023, the Ethnography Lab will be welcoming fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson to discuss fiction writing in relation to ethnographic practices.
Kim Stanley Robinson is a world renowned science fiction author, winner of both the Nebula and Hugo awards, who’s work centers mostly on the imagination of distant and proximate futures affected and dealing with what we might now identify as an inevitable climate crisis. KSR’s work on this matter stands out for his combination of uptodate developments in the scientific and social understanding of this crisis, with fictional situations which more than illustrate an imagined future, illuminate and map the present. KSR is today a principal figure in ecosocialist debates and an undoubted reference in arguments about the restrictions that the capitalist mode of production imposes on finding effective solutions to this crisis.
This event will aim at crafting speculative practices by which to envision experimental ways of performing and writing research through fiction. Beside pushing for innovative research tools, the event will seek to explore the activist potential of imagining and existing otherwise, through fiction, and rendering research and knowledge differently accessible to larger audiences.
Science fiction, as a speculative genre, has for years provided readers with the space to imagine other forms of social relations themselves determined by the existence of imaginary technological developments and scientific advances. In projecting imaginary futures, particularly in a dystopian form, science fiction exposes the limitations of existing discourses over economic and technological development and, more importantly, draws a thread from the contradictions of the present to imagined catastrophes of the future. Moreover, in its inability to overcome certain oppressive views, forms of gender and racial inequality, even in its utopian imaginations, science fiction projections allow us to reflect on the deep structural character of many of these social injustices.
The speculative method of science fiction provides social research with a critical tool for exposing inherent problems of existing social structures as well as the limitations of current policy in addressing these issues. Furthermore, as Ruth Levitas suggests when speaking of utopias, these speculative efforts facilitate “genuinely holistic thinking about possible futures, combined with reflexivity, provisionality and democratic engagement with the principles and practices of those futures” (2010).
The talk will be animated by Marie Lecuyer and Carlos Velásquez, Concordia PhD students in Social and Cultural Analysis.
To register, please contact lab coordinator Maya Lamothe-Katrapani at email@example.com