Creating Futures Rooted in Wonder: Bridges between Indigenous, Science Fiction, and Fairy-Tale Studies

Scholars, students, creative writers, performers, filmmakers, activists, and community members, from Moananuiākea and Turtle Island, will come together for a four-day symposium that seeks to strengthen our rootedness in the stories of our past and inspire us to imagine just and sustainable futures.

  • Roundtable panels, featuring scholars in Fairy Tale, Science Fiction, and Native/Indigenous Studies, artists, and community organizers, including Grace Dillon, Reina Whaitiri, Pauline Greenhill, Kamuela Enos, Brandy Nālani McDougall, Cristina Bacchilega, John Rieder, and more
  • Workshops and activities led by artists, activists, writers, filmmakers, performers, including Nisi Shawl, Solomon Enos, Jason Lewis, Octaviaʻs Brood, Michael Lujan Bevacqua, Jocelyn Ng, and more
  • Indigenous video game, comic book lounge

How can Indigenous values, culture, and people inform the way we think about the past, present, and future? Or call us to re-think (neo/post) colonial ideologies of progress? Setting ourselves against the entrenched academic, cultural, and political view of Indigenous people as remnants of the past, the organizers of this symposium ask how Indigenous narrative practices connect the past, present, and future to one another. We would like to honor and discuss the ways indigenous tales and stories of wonder have been and can continue to be adapted to respond to political, social, and ecological crisis, how these stories can heal and energize our understandings of history, the present, and our possible futures. Despite the ongoing colonial violences indigenous people are suffering and the very real stakes of telling stories, we feel that we must come together to tell our stories, to sing our stories, to perform our stories, to speak about our stories, and to write our stories.

This project emerges from two special journal issues—a special issue of the fairy-tale studies journal Marvels & Tales titled “Rooted in Wonder: Tales of Indigenous Activism and Community Organizing,” and a special issue of the science fiction studies journal Extrapolation on the topic of Indigenous Futurism. Both issues set out to oppose the way Indigenous narratives are often ignored or co-opted to further the agendas of the so-called dominant cultures, with stories of the Indigenous past and present relegated to the status of folk tales and legends, while stories of the future often entail the assumption that non-Western cultures will either disappear or assimilate themselves to Western norms. We hope to join our voices to the growing movement of writing, both fictional and critical, that re-envisions the future, coming from the point of view of Indigenous histories, traditions, and knowledges.

This symposium is grateful for support from: Gladys Brandt Chair in Polynesian Studies; Reading Series of the Creative Writing Program; SSHRC Partnership Development Grant 890-2013-17; Kamehameha Publishers; SEED IDEAS; Arts & Sciences Expanding the Student Experience Fund; Joseph Keene Chadwick Endowment Fund; UHF; Center for Pacific Islands Studies, Academy for Creative Media, Department of American Studies, Department of English, Department of Political Science & Indigenous Politics Program, Department of Religion, and the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies.

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