Decolonising the Science Fiction Collections

In literature, science fiction stands as a beacon of imagination and exploration. Yet, beneath the surface of the fantastical worlds and futuristic technologies of science fiction lies a narrative shaped by colonial ideologies. As a response to this the Decolonising Science Fiction LibGuide was created – a curated resource aimed at unravelling the complexities of science fiction through the lens of decolonisation. In the following post I will define the key concepts of Decolonizing Science fiction and why it’s important and then move onto discussing my personal experiences working on the project. 

The LibGuide serves as a comprehensive resource for those interested in exploring and participating in the process of decolonizing science fiction. It offers a curated collection from within the Science Fiction Collections of critical texts, anthologies, journal articles and external resources aimed at examining and challenging the colonial narratives and perspectives embedded within the genre. 

To understand the essence of the LibGuide, it’s essential to grasp the concept of decolonising science fiction. Decolonising as a process is to identify, acknowledge and challenge the effects of colonialism. The goal of decolonising science fiction can be broken down into two parts. The first is viewing texts though a colonial lens, examining how they reflect and perpetuate colonial ideologies. The second is to promote voices to actively address the underrepresentation of marginalized cultures and to diversify perspectives.

At its core, the LibGuide is a tool for students, researchers, and educators who seek to delve into the intersection of science fiction and colonialism. The LibGuide’s objectives mirror those of Decolonising Science Fiction and are twofold. Firstly, it seeks to foster a critical dialogue by encouraging readers to analyse science fiction through a colonial lens. Resources relating to this critical dialogue are listed in the ‘Critique of Colonialism’ section.  By doing so, the LibGuide aims to help researchers and students to unveil the underlying narrative tropes that uphold colonial structures. Secondly, the guide endeavours to promote underrepresented voices within the genre, enriching it with diverse perspectives. Resources that relate to these voices are listed under sections titled ‘Afro and African Futurisms’, ‘Indigenous Futurisms’, ‘Latin American Science Fiction’ and ‘Global Science Fiction’. At the end of the LibGuide are two additional sections, one for teaching resources held within the Science Fiction Collections and links to other web resources for those interested in further information about other Decolonising the Curriculum and Decolonising Science Fiction projects.

This resource is not just for academia but extends its reach to anyone with a passion for science fiction and a commitment to inclusivity. It serves as a tool for students looking to deepen their understanding, researchers exploring new areas, and educators striving to diversify their curriculum. 

Before starting the project, I was interested in science fiction as a hobby but had surface level knowledge and wasn’t aware of the vast expanse of works from different cultures. When the project began the first step was to educate myself so that I could understand fully the concepts central to the LibGuide. This was a learning experience for me, and it was great to immerse myself in the topic. The next step was to find resources appropriate for the LibGuide through a combination of digital and physical searches.

I took particular interest during this time in Latin American and Spanish works being from a Spanish background myself. For example, I discovered a book called Cosmos Latinos, an anthology from Spain and Latin America containing works from as early as 1862. It was interesting to look at science fiction works from my own culture and delve into its rich history that I was previously unaware of.

The LibGuide remains a work in progress. As new insights emerge and additional voices are brought into the conversation, the guide will continue to evolve, offering fresh perspectives and expanding its wealth of resources. There is a suggestion box as part of the LibGuide offering readers a chance to provide feedback and offer recommendations as to what they think may be missing.

The LibGuide is now live and available for viewing on the Science Fiction Hub.

By Neil Drew-Lopez (Student Partner)

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