Art After Culture, “The Twilight Symposium: Science Fiction Inside Colonialism” at La Colonie

Art After Culture, “The Twilight Symposium: Science Fiction Inside Colonialism” at La Colonie

Design: Fabio Lapiana and Jean-Michel Diaz. Images 2 and 3: Ayham Jabr, Damascus Under Siege and Where Home Is (2016).

e-flux journal presents
Art After Culture, “The Twilight Symposium: Science Fiction Inside Colonialism” at La Colonie
February 2, 2019, 10am
La Colonie
10th arrondissement of Paris

The Canadian science fiction writer Nalo Hopkinson wrote “To be a person of colour writing science fiction is to be under suspicion of having internalized one’s colonization.” Of course, the problem isn’t the fiction, but the science—the belief that the Western scientism saturating our current technologies can create entirely new dreamworlds other than the colonial frontiers it has already created. Co-organized by La Colonie and e-flux journal, the “Twilight Symposium” asks: Isn’t the first challenge of any science fiction written with an awareness of colonial history: Can technology be detached from its role in scientifically justifying European world domination?

After all, cosmological systems are not always scientific ones, just as scientific systems are not only imperial. Cybernetic systems may be something else altogether: if narrative fiction was once too gentle or too soft to be a coercive political weapon or punitive military tool, we now find cybernetic and global economic soft power regimes using optics and sentiments to fashion imaginary loyalties. Whether through literature or cinema, the telegraph or the railroad, military-corporate territorial expansion always used transportation and communication to extend its reach. So it may be no coincidence that colonial and science fiction narratives both share the fantasy of communicating and relating across a singular platform.

Today, however, a number of rising economic and technological powers are nations that sense themselves as having been on the receiving end of colonial expansion. It may be unprecedented in the modern period to control such technology while also having suffered great losses from technologically advanced Western powers. Perhaps the same can be said for populations of the very same former imperial powers, who sense themselves as having been exploited by their own regimes. Today, they too may stand at Plymouth Rock in 1620 or Guanahani in 1492, watching the alien or machine takeover approaching from the horizon, only this time under flags such as “disruptive tech” or “belt-tightening”. It prompts the question: What can, and what has, the scientific imaginary become? Under these circumstances, what kind of futures or even futurisms become suddenly imaginable, or even remembered? Possibly for the first time in a very long time?

Join us at La Colonie on Saturday, February 2 from 10am–6:30pm, and on Sunday, February 3 from 4:30–8:30pm for “The Twilight Symposium: Science Fiction Inside Colonialism,” the second in the conference series Art After Cuture? organized in Rotterdam, Paris, Berlin, and New York launching off the next ten years of e-flux journal.

With lectures, films, and discussions by Julieta Aranda, Kader Attia, Robert Bird, Kaye Cain-Nielsen, Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay, Ali Cherri, Kodwo Eshun, Joana Hadjithomas, Marie-Nour Hechaimé, Khalil Joreige, Maha Maamoun, Mahan Moalemi, Chantal Pontbriand, Anjalika Sagar, Rasha Salti, Jihan El-Tahri, Christelle Taraud, Anton Vidokle, and Brian Kuan Wood.

For updates to the program, please visit La Colonie’s website.

For more information, contact Alix Hugonnier on

Colonialism & Imperialism
Science Fiction, Futures
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