Boundaries and Otherness in Science Fiction: We Cannot Escape the Human Condition

Authors

  • Isabella Hermann Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1515/texmat-2018-0013

Keywords:

international relations, emotions, body politics, alien encounter, world state

Abstract

The article explores the construction of boundaries, alterity and otherness in modern science-fiction (SF) films. Boundaries, understood as real state borders, territoriality and sovereignty, as well as the construction of the other beyond an imagined border and delimited space, have a significant meaning in the dystopian settings of SF. Even though SF topics are not bound to the contemporary environment, be it of a historical, technical or ethical nature, they do relate to the present-day world and transcend our well-known problems. Therefore, SF offers a pronounced discourse about current social challenges under extreme conditions such as future technological leaps, encounters with the alien other or the end of the world. At the same time the genre enables us to play through future challenges that might really happen. Films like Equilibrium (2002), Code 46 (2003), Children of Men (2006) and District 9 (2009) show that in freely constructed cinematic settings we are not only unable to escape from our border conflicts, but quite the contrary, we take them everywhere with us, even to an alternative present or into the future, where new precarious situations of otherness are constructed.

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Author Biography

Isabella Hermann, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Isabella Hermann is a political scientist by training. She holds a PhD in International Relations where she specialized in international respect and status issues using constructivist and discourse analytical research designs. Having always been fascinated by the socio-political impact of new technologies, she also started to publish and give talks about science fiction and (global) politics. Right now, technologies such as smart machines, which have formerly been labelled science fiction, are becoming reality—and so are ethical concerns of applying them. Therefore, Isabella Hermann is now a research coordinator of the interdisciplinary research group “Responsibility: Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence” at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Berlin. The project explores the ethical challenges regarding AI systems and it will elaborate on recommendations for dealing with the new technologies in a positive way.

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Published

2018-10-24

How to Cite

Hermann, I. (2018). Boundaries and Otherness in Science Fiction: We Cannot Escape the Human Condition. Text Matters, (8), 212-226. https://doi.org/10.1515/texmat-2018-0013