student profile: Ms Mykaela Saunders


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Thesis work

Thesis title: Goori-Futurism: Envisioning the sovereignty of Minjungbal-Nganduwal country, community, and culture through speculative fiction

Supervisors: Peter MINTER

Thesis abstract:

For the creative component of this degree, I intend to compose an original literary work in the form of a short story cycle [SSC]. The SSC will be comprised of several short Goori-futurism stories, set in the future on the country once briefly known as Tweed Heads in Bundjalung country.[1] In this truly post-colonial world, the Minjungbal/Nganduwal community have reasserted sovereignty, reclaimed our countries, have full self-determination over our affairs, and have incorporated non-Indigenous people into our social networks. To imagine the variety of ways that First Nations people might live after reasserting sovereignty, the SSC will be epic in scope and feature a diverse cast of characters, and explore their complex relationships inside and between country, community, and culture. The SSC will explore aspects of a thriving, self-determining community, and also comment on community politics, such as lateral violence, belonging and exclusion, and notions of authenticity tied into skin colour politics, by exploring these present tensions in the future tense.

To investigate what such a world might look like, I have devised a research methodology comprised of four interdependent frameworks: Conceptual, Contextual, Collaborative, and Creative. The research will inform and situate the SSC in its worlds of ideas, genre conventions, communal knowledge production, and creative writing practise, respectively. The Conceptual framework will contribute to existing studies about decolonisation, specifically using lens of critical Indigenous literature to theorise the needs of a sovereign country, community, and culture. The Contextual framework will commit the genre conventions of Goori-futurism, alongside extending and challenging a number of existing genre conventions. It will explore the tensions of applying the theory to a future fictional world, and how the opportunities and challenges of sovereignty may be dynamically resolved in fiction. Written for, and in collaboration with the community, the Collaborative framework’s fieldwork will be beneficial for the yarning participants and for the Minjungbal community in general. It will also be a contribution to the field of research conducted by local Indigenous academics, and about the Minjungbal community.? The Creative Framework will clarify the central operations in the writing of the SSC, providing a model for writers working under the dual pressure of poetics and factual veracity. This project is also significant because there is no current research that articulates a holistic methodology in this way.

This project will produce an original fictional work that transfigures academic research into creative practise. It will extend the field of Indigenous speculative fiction [spec-fic], as well as carving out a new niche of Goori-futurism as there is currently no local literary fiction that explores a future where First Nations countries, communities, and cultures embody sovereignty as a utopian reality. In performing philosophical provocations, the SSC will imagine a more liberating paradigm that celebrates a First Nations country, community, and culture. Furthermore, the SSC will be the first of its kind set in my community, and this project will be a significant contribution to the field of fiction by First Nations women writers.


[1] I propose the name Goori-futurism for this subgenre. The name and philosophy pays homage to: the rich heritage of Afro-futurism, a genre where, according to Wilson, “science fiction and technology meet the popular culture of the African diaspora”; and more recently, Aotearoa-futurism, which has emerged from Maori and other Pacific Islander storytellers. See Sophie Wilson, "Aotearoa Futurism: Space Maori, Astronesians, and South Pacific Futurists," The Wireless, http://thewireless.co.nz/articles/aotearoa-futurism-space-maori-astronesians-and-south-pacific-futurists.

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.