What kind of worldbuilding does speculative finance do, and, how might we use the tools of speculative fiction to intervene in this process?

July 12-14 2023

Speculative Fiction in the Anthropocene

EWIS workshop C – Care, Compost, Capitalism, and Cats: Dissident Anthropocenes / Dissident Scholarship

University of Amsterdam

Speculative Fiction in the Anthropocene

From an International Relations (IR) perspective, it is interesting to observe how speculative fiction deals with “cognitive estrangement” when it comes to the Anthropocene and classical concepts in world politics such as global governance. Speculative fiction helps us recognise the ways in which global governance takes effect and, from that vantage point, reveals the contradictions and the possibilities in light of the negative effects of the Anthropocene. In this way, speculative fiction can be best understood as a tool to help us better read and understand global governance and the modalities of the Anthropocene. Thus, it becomes not only a way of probing the limits and central contradictions of global governance today, but also as the starting point for exploring the possibilities within it.

As part of my Marie Curie project on speculative finance and speculative fiction, I’m organising another event on the 18th of April. Sherryl Vint, one of the leading scholars of Science Fiction in the world today, will come to RUC to talk about the nested narrative of Hernan Diaz’s novel Trust as a motif by which the novel engages with the form of the financialized economy, in parallel with how its plot reflects on the lives of New York’s financial elite. By reframing the story of the 1929 crash through several mediations from the ‘reality’ this narrative relates—a novel-with-the-novel, notes for a biography, reflections on this process by the ghost writer of said biography, and finally a personal journal—Trust draws our attention to the financialized economy as an exercise of substituting models for the thing itself, with inevitable distortions and lost data. Then, I will engage in a dialogue with Sherryl Vint in the debate around the importance...