Speculative Life

I’m excited to announce the publication of a new Social Text Periscope online dossier, edited by Jayna Brown and I, on Speculative Life.

Here’s part of our description of the theme and its relevance, from our introduction:

In our dystopian present, the term speculation is associated with an epistemology of greed, a sanctioned terrorism, and a neo-imperialism organized around the capture of abstract futures and the subjugation of transnational labor forces. Financial speculators gamble with everyone’s lives, and our times would seem to foreclose on any future at all for many.

But speculation means something else for those who refuse to give its logic over to power and profit. To speculate, the act of speculation, is also to play, to invent, to engage in the practice of imagining. And, as Ernst Bloch said, it may be in our imaginative worlds that we catch glimpses of utopian possibility beyond our present paradigm. At a moment when so many have been struggling to enact alternatives to the depressing world produced by Wall Street’s speculative failures, we need to practice imagining now more than ever.

And here are the wonderful, provocative essays.

Introduction: Speculative Life, by Jayna Brown and Alexis Lothian

A Wilder Sort of Empiricism: Madness, Visions and Speculative Life, by Jayna Brown

Vampires and Cyborgs: Transhuman Ability and Ableism in the work of Octavia Butler and Janelle Monáe, by Moya Bailey

Larissa Lai’s “New Cultural Politics of Intimacy”: Animal. Asian. Cyborg. by Tamara Ho

Speculating Queerer Worlds by Alexis Lothian

Socialist Irrealism: an interview with China Miéville, by Jayna Brown and Alexis Lothian

Race For Life, by Alex Weheliye

So Say We All, by Tavia Nyong’o

The Water Keeps Flowing, by Elizabeth Turgeon

Disappearing Natives: Notes for Future SF&F Stories, by Andrea Hairston

I’m developing a strong love and appreciation for the kind of accessible yet incisive intellectual work we can do in just-over-blog-length, carefully edited and thoughtfully presented crossover scholarly publications like these. I encourage you to read them, teach them, pass them on.