Indigenous Scientific Literacies in Nalo Hopkinson’s Ceremonial Worlds

Published In

Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2007


Increasingly our critical tradition is recognizing the prevalence of issues of indigeneity in sf. Whether this emerging emphasis reflects keener powers of observation on the part of readers or shifting preferences on the part of writers, it is clear that, as the idealism of a Golden Age melts into the dross of colonial aftermath, sf is beginning to reflect the West's rising awareness that manifest destinies, whatever fashion they wear, wield a violent science in pursuing control and care little for the cultures they displace and erase. Nor is it surprising that a genre noted for its pioneering exploration of subjugations based on race, gender, and sexual orientation would necessarily include the experience of indigenous peoples on its list of social themes. This essay views Nalo Hopkinson's canon as a transition from so-called "postcolonial" sf to sf that participates in "ceremonial worlds," a concept borrowed from First Nations thinking. This transition underscores the increasing contributions of authors whose imaginations extrapolate from an indigenous point of view. The analysis here examines Hopkinson's ceremonial worlds by focusing on her juxtaposition of indigenous scientific literacies in contrast with Euro-American western science. Hopkinson's ceremonial worlds acknowledge the often harsh experience of indigenous peoples while upholding hope that her cautionary tales, if heeded, may succeed in achieving sustainable alternative futures.


Copyright: © 2007 The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts

Locate the Document

PSU Affiliates can access the journal online:
JFA Subscription

Others may gain access via Gale:
Online version

Persistent Identifier