Jayna Brown on “The Human Project: Bodily Dystopias and the Utopics of Race”

Event time: 
Monday, September 29, 2008 (All day)
Location: 
Linsly-Chittenden Hall (LC), Room 211 See map
63 High Street
Event description: 

Jayna Brown is Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Professor Brown researches in the areas of performance theory and culture in the United States and in the African Diaspora. Her most recent book is titled Babylon Girls: Black Women Performers and the Modern Body. Professor Brown’s presentation, “The Human Project: Bodily Dystopias and the Utopics of Race,” suggested that in “current critical dystopias, bodies are both the locus for terror and the site for utopian possibility. Race is potentially rendered obsolete in these other-bodily projections, yet in many science fiction dystopias racialized subjects are the source for and agents of change.”

Brown made her argument in the context of recent science fiction films, focusing particularly on 28 Days Later (Boyle, 2002) and Children of Men (Cuaron, 2006). She noted that “apocalypse, in both films, is the result of mass bodily affliction (male sterility in Children of Men, a virus in 28 Days Later) and black women protagonists are the crucial rehumanizing force, responsible for the survival of humankind.” Professor Brown argued that “while these narratives engage familiar primitivist tropes in their utopian vision, they also signal a deep collective desire for paradigmatic shifts in our racial and socio-political imaginings.”