This was an outstanding year for the Anarres Project. We brought together people in many different places for exciting and important discussions about the ways speculative arts can inspire our critical thinking and radical imaginations for just social change. Here is a round up of our events and presentations for the year:
March We held our first film and discussion event that touched on the ways anarchism and gender identity are dealt with in Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. These discussions opened the way for honoring (along with the Spring Creek Project) filmmaker Arwin Curry. She came to bring us a viewing of her wonderful documentary, “The Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin.” It was jam packed at La Sells Stewart Auditorium for this award winning film in a community that loves Ursula.
April: This month saw the return of the Eugene based Trek Theatre to OSU with a performance of the classic Star Trek episode “Space Seed” which introduces the arch villain, Khan.
Anarres Project co-director Joseph Orosco gave a lecture a week before the performance on the ethics of genetic enhancement (Khan is a genetically enhanced super human who at one point tried to dominate all of earth) in order to give a philosophical background for the play.
This Trek Theatre performance took new directions with the character of Khan (originally portrayed by Ricardo Montalban): the actor for this version was a Black woman—race and gender swapping the character in a way that upends most historical accounts of genetic superiority.
At the end of the month, we also partnered with Veterans for Peace, and the Corvallis Latin American Solidarity Committee to have Cian Westmoreland, a former US Air Force drone technician, come to town to talk about human rights violations at the US/Mexico border.
May: We held the second installment of our popular series TrekWars@OSU that explores how the Star Trek and Star Wars universes handle a variety of social, cultural, and political issues. The theme this year was: Heroic Women. Our panel of fans examined what kind of female role models are held up in esteem by these two sci-fi franchises and the ways gender and trans discrimination are still perpetuated.
June: Anarres Project helped out with the Eighth Annual Solidarity Fair, a yearly gathering of labor, environmental, and social justice groups in downtown Corvallis, sponsored by the Mid Valley Industrial Workers of the World. We hosted the free book and literature booth. Following along the theme of the Fair—Stop Making Capitalism—we gave away donated books, many from PM and AK Presses.
September: Toward the end of summer, members of the TrekWars@OSU panel took their show on the road to Rose City Comic Con in Portland. In front of an audience of over fifty cosplayers and fans, the TrekWars crew talked about the annual event at OSU and gave them a sample by talking about the theme of heroic women.
November: We celebrated Indigenous People’s Month, by hosting another film and discussion event. We talked about how Native Americans are portrayed in mainstream science fiction and how Native artists are creating new vistas that blend traditional oral histories and sci-fi narratives. Our discussion spent a long time considering whether there are tensions between what we call “science” and traditional Native ways of knowledge. This was a great segue way to our highlight event of the year…
The Just Futures Symposium: We ended the year by bringing together a variety of scholars and activists to talk about how speculative fiction can inform our work on building just and equitable futures. The all day conference included talks on Star Trek, Star Wars, Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, Dungeons and Dragons. Our two keynotes included Dr. Grace Dillon, one of the founders of the indigenous futurisms genre in speculative arts, and Alex Riccio, a long time collaborator of the Anarres Project and one of the creative geniuses behind the LaborWaves podcast.
We’re looking forward to a brand new year! Let us know if there are ideas and issues you have that you would like us to explore.