Book presents alternative cultural history of science fiction

Conventional wisdom about science fiction is that it has followed the same diffusionist patterns as the advancement of industrial capitalism — spreading from North America and Europe to Asia, Latin America and Africa, following the paths of colonialism and postcolonial development. Anindita Banerjee, associate professor of comparative literature, challenges that notion in her new anthology, “Science Fiction Circuits of the South and East.”

Cornell Arts & Sciences professor Anindita Banerjee
As Banerjee explains, the history of science fiction is radically different from the conventional historicity. “Western, specifically Anglo-American, science fiction is not the only hub of the global trade of alternative realities and futures. Rather it is but only one of several competing flows and circuits of distribution, contacts, influence, translation, adaptation and collaboration, across space and time.”

The essays in her collection portray a broad international scope and multidisciplinary breadth. The anthology focuses on the socialist world and its cultural networks across the South and East, with chapters focused on transatlantic historicities of the Caribbean, Latin America, African America and the Soviet Union.

Banerjee said the most difficult part of this project was “finding scholars who work in multiple, and relevant, languages and regions while possessing both the depth of knowledge and breadth of vision to address the theoretical concept of ‘world science fiction.’”

Banerjee is currently working on two additional projects:  co-edited collection with Debra Castillo titled “South of the Future: Speculative Biotechnologies and Care Markets in South Asia and Latin America,” looks at how biomarkets have transformed the social, political and economic relationships between North and Latin America and the industrialized world and the Indian subcontinent. Her other project is a book, “The Chernobyl Effect,” which examines how the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 is a turning point for rethinking nuclear culture in the 21st century.

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