Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations
Beyond the Anglocentric Fantastic
28th-29th May 2020
“Dragons are not universal, and fantasies are not homogenous.”
– Deepa Dharmadhikari, ‘Surviving Fantasy Through Post-Colonialism’
In “Surviving Fantasy Through Post-Colonialism”, Deepa Dharmadhikari writes that she grew up “speaking Marathi with my family, and Hindi with schoolmates and neighbours, but the only children’s books I read were in English. Less than a handful were written by Indian authors about Indian characters. . . . I grew up with half a tongue.” Her essay invites us to question our own habits: What language do we use when we read, watch, write, or think about Fantasy and the fantastic? What cultural traditions tend to be represented in the “Fantasy canon”? What ethnic and racial groups dominate Fantasy texts, in terms of characters and writers alike? What power dynamics shape the production, distribution, and reception of Fantasy texts? Many of the texts that have been used to define Fantasy are written in English and either set in or inspired by white-dominated spaces in the United States and the United Kingdom, from The Lord of the Rings to the works of George MacDonald, William Morris, L. Frank Baum, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and J. K. Rowling. Fantasy scholarship has reinforced this tendency, dominated as it is by discussion of English-language texts.
This limited perception of Fantasy is reflective of two key concepts for this year’s symposium: Anglonormativity and Anglocentrism. Anglonormativity refers to the hegemony of the English language, which pressurizes creatives and scholars into using English and writing about English-language texts, and treats scholars and writers in other languages as niche and hence marginalised. Anglocentrism, in turn, refers to the practise of viewing the world through the lens of an English or Anglo-American perspective and with an implied belief, either consciously or unconsciously, in the preeminence of English or Anglo-American culture.
Anglonormativity and Anglocentrism can lead to either ignoring or appropriating the lengthy and rich traditions of Fantasy and the fantastic written in other languages and cultures, many of which predate the Anglophone tradition. Those non-Anglophone traditions have resulted in unique genres separate from Anglocentric Fantasy, others in subgenres like Afrofuturism, and still others in culturally-specific incarnations of Fantasy. Recent years have seen an increase in the publication and profile of works of Fantasy and the fantastic translated from a variety of languages (Chinese, Russian, Greek and Malay, to name but a few) as well as the output of English-speaking authors of colour such as Nalo Hopkinson and Kai Ashante Wilson, who bring their own backgrounds and language into their work. Within Anglophone countries, there has been a slowly growing tendency to centre the perspective of racially, culturally, and ethnically marginalised groups whose perspectives have historically been underrepresented in white Anglocentric fantasy. Indigenous authors are also starting to make their presence known in the fantastic, using the genre to examine the contested space of colonised land, and imagine escape from or alternatives to a history and present of oppression and erasure. Tolkien’s white British English may still be treated as the default for Fantasy, but as Dharmadhikari argues, “Dragons are not universal, and fantasies are not homogenous.”
GIFCon 2020 is a two-day symposium that seeks to examine and honour the heterogeneity of Fantasy and the fantastic beyond Anglonormativity and Anglocentrism. We welcome proposals for papers relating to this theme from researchers and practitioners working in the field of Fantasy and the fantastic across all media, whether within the academy or beyond it. We are particularly interested in submissions from postgraduate and early career researchers. We will also offer creative workshops for those interested in exploring the creative process.
We ask for 300-word abstracts for 20-minute papers, as well as creative presentations that go beyond the traditional academic paper. Regrettably, despite our desire to centre the non-Anglophonic, we are only able to accept papers presented in English.
Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Non-Anglocentric histories and traditions of Fantasy and the fantastic in all forms of media
- The postcolonial fantastic, by authors such as Helen Oyeyemi, Salman Rushdie, N. K. Jemisin, Nalo Hopkinson, and Zen Cho
- The use of real non-Anglophone languages in Fantasy
- Translation studies and the fantastic
- Accounts of non-Anglophone scholarship on Fantasy and the fantastic
- Influence of Anglocentrism and Anglonormativity on the non-Anglocentric and non-Anglonormative
- The non-Anglocentric European fantastic, e.g. Slavic, Nordic, Mediterranean, Gaelic
- The (mis)use, exoticism, and appropriation of non-Anglocentric cultural traditions and fantasy lineages into the Fantasy ‘canon’
- Indigeneity and indigenous self-determination in Indigenous forms of Fantasy
- Deconstruction, decolonisation, and counterappropriation as topics within and movements surrounding Fantasy texts
- Postcolonial reception of Anglocentric texts, e.g. the success of Harry Potter in India
- Implications of “writing back” to Anglophone genres
- Diasporic Fantasy and the fantastic
- Relationship between Fantasy and non-Anglocentric genres and forms, e.g. magical realism, masala films, Africanjujuism, shenmo xiaoshuo, fantastique, kaiju, etc.
- Fantasy and the fantastic in a non-Anglocentric medium, e.g. Bollywood fantasies, manga, anime, jrpgs, Karagöz shadow plays
- Fan efforts to create space for non-Anglocentric experiences in Anglocentric texts
- Marginalised traditions within Anglocentric fantasy, i.e. works of the fantastic about and by immigrant communities, religious minorities, and racial and ethnic minorities
- Relationship between non-Anglocentric Fantasy and the regional cultural industries that produce them
- The presence or lack thereof of non-Anglocentric Fantasy in Anglocentric spaces
- Relationship between Fantasy and religious or spiritual beliefs in non-Anglocentric cultures
Please read our submission guidelines
and submit a 300-word abstract as well as a 100-word bionote to
The deadline is the 12th of January 2020, at 23:00 UTC
Make sure you follow the submission guidelines!