student profile: Ms Mykaela Saunders


Thesis work

Thesis title: Decolonising the Post-Apocalypse: envisioning a world of First Nations sovereignty through Koori-futurism

Supervisors: Peter MINTER

Thesis abstract:

I intend to compose an original creative work of Koori-futurism* in the form of a short story cycle [SSC], accompanied by an exegesis. The SSC will be comprised of interconnected stories, set in the future on the continent once briefly known as Australia. In this truly post-colonial world, First Nations peoples have reasserted our sovereignty, reclaimed our countries, have full self-determination over our affairs, and have incorporated non-Indigenous people into our social networks. My SSC will also comment on community politics, such as lateral violence, and notions of authenticity tied into skin colour politics, by exploring these present tensions in the future tense.

The purpose of the different stories is to imagine a variety of ways that First Nations peoples in the future might live after reasserting our sovereignty. The SSC is a form that lends itself to thematic exploration, without the need for an extended plot or narrative structure. In this, a SSC is an ideal vehicle to explore the opportunities and challenges that such a world might present for a variety of First Nations characters, communities and countries. As the genre of speculative fiction offers wonderful opportunities to imagine the seemingly impossible, Koori-futurism opens the parameters to explore a world where our sovereignty is a utopian reality.

My intention for this project is to dismantle the white supremacy of the future, disrupt the tropes of non-Indigenous exceptionalism and decolonise our fictional representation. I therefore intend for the SSC to manage a commitment to social justice as well as honour its contract with its readers to provide entertaining representation within the conventions of its genre. The SSC will then conform to the expectations of the ‘Post-Apocalyptic Australiana’ genre while also subverting its conventions in light of critical decolonisation theory, thereby both rigorously extending the field of Koori-futurism itself and performing philosophical provocations in a practice-led work of research. This project will also be a significant contribution to the field of fiction by First Nations women writers.

*I propose the name Koori-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.

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