Imaging Peace: Care-full Non-violence in Contemporary Sci-fi Narratives (Panel)

Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Ben Crace (American University of Kuwait)

Angelica Maria DeAngelis (American University of Kuwait)

In literature and popular culture, the non-violent approach is vastly underrepresented as a viable philosophy. This is problematic because the stories we tell shape the imaginary we live out of. Part of the reason the pacifist position seems so untenable is precisely because it remains so unimagined. One thinks of the so-called canon with its repertoire of violent heroes: Homer, Shakespeare, Milton, Arthurian legend. Even today’s popular “canon” features heroes who consistently solve problems through violence: the Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC Comics’ films, the John Wick series, and the classic, decade-spanning Alien franchise. The myth of redemptive violence continues unabated.

With the increasing popularity of the science fiction and fantasy genres, the narratives of the future are written in the texts of popular culture today. Already a tradition within some feminist science fiction (think Octavia Butler or Ursula LeGuin), other sci-fi texts also subvert the violence-as-assumed-solution position, as does Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide comedic franchise, James White’s character-driven Sector General series, or the BBC’s Good Samaritan Dr. Who, on the air since 1963.

We welcome papers that identify, describe, and analyze sci-fi texts that undertake the task of imaging a peaceful future of care instead of domination and conquest or offer modes of non-violent resistance against power. These texts may include graphic novels, films, novels, comics, and sci-fi from different periods and cultures that offer an alternative, non-violent vision of our future.

This panel explores the possibilities of non-violent narratives and resistance in the sci-fi genre.