ComparativE climate-changed

futures in fiction

Introduction

Comparative climate-changed futures is three year PhD project conducted by Marta Mboka Tveit, part of the ScienceFictionality reserach project.

The planetary challenges of our time are being gazed upon through the prisms of diverse cultures; humans are looking at the same overhanging threats but do not necessarily see the same things. What we see through our prisms is always already culturally and historically situated. What we see affects our imaginations and imaginaries of the future, which again has tangible effects on the presents we are currently building.

Looking at texts from contexts that are far apart in many respects can be extremely fruitful because it allows us a clearer view of the culturally-based assumptions and premises that underlie the production of each. Since most of the cultural production examined here is made for worldwide audiences this becomes a study of comparative localized transculturality. Comparison can reveal aspects of each text, and of each cultural context, which would otherwise have remained hidden.

This research looks at “climate-changed” future imaginings, through case-texts from Norway and the African continent.

Artifacts orbiting futures, and the people who create them, can tell us something about how climate change is comprehended, contemplated, reimagined in different cultural contexts. What kind of work is worldling and futuring doing in culturally constructing climate change? We need to further understand what “wicked problems” look like through (g)local prisms, in order to better comprehend action (or lack thereof) in the present.

Methodology

The main research questions to be examined are:

  1. What are the similarities and differences in how these two subgenres treat fictional futures under human-created climate change?

2. What attitudes and patterns of argument can be discerned within these production communities that “live and breathe” possibilities and  futures?

3. What can thinking through speculative fiction contribute to contemporary ecological thought, and vice versa?

The methodology for this thesis is three-part:

  • Field-survey

Here, the project is mapping the landscape of both Norwegian and pan-African speculative future-writing and reading. This includes communities, magazines, fanzines, official organizations, key-persons, authors and fans.

  • Interviews

Conducting interviews with key-persons, writers, fans, art-creators and publishers in order to gain a thorough overview of the creative-landscapes examined, and to better understand attitudes, opinions and thoughts from the people within these creative landscapes who spend a significant amount of time thinking about and working with futures.

  • Textual-survey

This is a reading of key texts (games, multimedial projects films, series, novels, short stories, poetry collections and more), both from the continent of Africa and Norway, – those where a major focus is a future  affected by climate change.

*Coverphoto still from shortfilm “Kempinski”, Neil Beloufa 2007 (Mali)

<a href="https://projects.cofutures.org/comparativeclimatechangedfutures/">Comparative ‘climate-changed’ futures in fiction</a>“The other side” by Jacque Njeri 2021 (Kenyan visual artist, photo from Instagram)

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