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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

The Anthropocene Unconscious of African Second Contact Narratives: District 9, Rosewater, Lagoon

10th May 2017, 17:30 to 19:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Dr Mark Bould (University of the West of England)

An Inventions of the Text seminar.

This paper explores the ways in which three narratives of first contact with aliens in the postcolony not only look back to the colonial encounter but also mediate an already unfolding future of catastrophic climate change and global extinctions. Neil Blomkamp’s film District 9 (2009), set thirty years after a million alien refugees arrived in apartheid Johannesburg, offers no alternate history to take us from 1982 to this very near future. Stalled by an imaginative failure that coincides with the neoliberal mantra that there can be no alternative, it projects a future of refugees, forced relocations and camps where, according to Giorgio Agamben, the ‘state of exception starts to become the rule’. Tade Thompson’s Rosewater (2016) interweaves a future present with a past that is also in our future, as a weird alien intrusion figures the radical rupture that might terminate the Anthropocene. Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon (2014) is similarly stalled, paused on the cusp of a world-historical rupture, in the quiet before the storm of global transformation, but nonetheless proposes, like Donna Haraway, that we need to stay with the trouble and make kin with non-human others.

About the Speaker

Dr Bould is a Reader in Film and Literature in the Department of Arts at the University of the West of England, as well as the co-editor of the series Studies in Global Science Fiction (Palgrave Macmillan) and the journal Science Fiction Film and Television. In addition, he is the author of several books on science fiction and cinema. Last year, he won the 2016 SFRA Pilgrim Lifetime Achievement Award for Critical Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy. His research spans science fiction film, literature and television as well as film noir and neo-noir, afrofuturism, African speculative fiction, political cinema and Marxism – all of which makes him an ideal speaker for our theme of interdisciplinarity!

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