Academic journal article Extrapolation

Interplanetary Diaspora and Fourth World Representation in Celu Amberstone's "Refugees"

Academic journal article Extrapolation

Interplanetary Diaspora and Fourth World Representation in Celu Amberstone's "Refugees"

Article excerpt

Writing in the Fantasy and SF genre allows me the opportunity to explore troubling issues in our own reality without the restraints and predictable outcomes of our mundane world. In my opinion, much of Aboriginal Literature today is still ensnared within the modalities of colonialism. So, in order to pass beyond these restrictions, some Aboriginal authors, like myself, have found it necessary to create whole new worlds, or journey to the stars. (Celu Amberstone)

In the introduction to So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy (2004), Nalo Hopkinson refers to "the unholy marriage of race consciousness and science fiction sensibility" (7), or the struggle for science fiction (sf) writers of color to write sf without being accused of aligning with a genre typically viewed as reinforcing stereotypes of colonization.1 She notes later that "To be a person of color writing science fiction is to be under suspicion of having internalized one's colonization" (7). Hopkinson's words demonstrate the hesitation most authors of color express at the idea of writing sf: how can sf authors write stories that respect both the conventions of the sf genre and their cultural experiences? Hopkinson, along with her co-editor Uppinder Mehan do not give a clear answer to this dilemma in their introduction; however, each work in the collection demonstrates an author's attempt to create a postcolonial sf sensibility. So Long Been Dreaming suggests that, used wisely, the genre of sf has the potential to become a vehicle for examining postcolonial relations,2 or as Hopkinson states: "stories that take the meme of colonizing the natives and, from the experience of the colonizee, critique it, pervert it, fuck with it, with irony, with anger, with humor, and also, with love and respect for the genre of science fiction that makes it possible to think about new ways of doing things" (9).

This work examines one of the stories in the So Long Been Dreaming collection, Celu Amberstone's "Refugees," as an example of an sf text that creates a postcolonial consciousness through its embodiment of Fourth World theory. The concept of the Fourth World is traditionally used to describe groups of peoples who live outside of the industrial norm of their country, or peoples who reside in a First World country, but live under Third World conditions. However, the term originates in George Manuel and Michael Posluns' The Fourth World: An Indian Reality (1974), which defines the term as a conceptual moment when Indigenous peoples and colonizers of European origin will overcome a history of violence and learn to share the planet. The Canadian-based authors and their fight for the rights of all Indigenous peoples throughout the 1970s and 1980s is well known in Canadian Indigenous communities, communities that Amberstone would likely have contact with as a Canadian resident. Amberstone herself is of mixed Cherokee and Scots-Irish heritage, and it is clear from interviews that she is very cognizant of the colonial implications of writing sf. "Refugees" includes a clear colonizer/colonized relationship between humans and an alien race called the Benefactors, but Amberstone includes another interesting relationship between two different groups of humans, one "Indigenous" and one newly relocated, who must both reside on the planet Tallav'Wahir. For this reason, I also employ Guillermo Gómez-Peña's later definition of the Fourth World in The New World Border: Prophecies, Poems and Loqueras for the End of the Century (1996) as "a conceptual place where the Indigenous inhabitants of the Americas meet with the diasporic communities" (7). Gómez-Peña's definition specifically addresses the connection between Indigenous and diasporic peoples,3 and I argue that by bringing together the experiences of these specific groups, Amberstone represents a postcolonial view of space colonization that focuses on the consequences of displacement and the experience of colonized peoples. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.