Introducing the 2020-2021 Support a Scholar Grant Recipient: Ida Yoshinaga

SFRA Review, vol. 50, no. 4

Features / Support a Scholar 2020-2021

Introducing the 2020-2021 Support a Scholar Grant Recipient: Ida Yoshinaga

Ida Yoshinaga

Hi everyone, I was asked to introduce myself and my work.  I guess you could say I am a narrative analyst, content producer, and labor scholar working at the odd intersection between science-fictional praxes, genre theory, and postcolonial folklore studies. I want to help diverse community people tell meaningful stories in mass media and thus try to contribute to the field of transmedial creative writing and the cultural politics of storyworld construction.

I have a couple of projects during this pandemic.  First, I study the complex dynamics between labor and leisure within the political economy of corporate-transmedial (i.e., “franchise” or “IP”) speculative and fantastic storytelling (this is the stream of research I refer to as my Disney scholarship). I deploy cross-platform narratological analyses to evaluate the productive value of gender, class, racial, and colonial content across narrative and non-narrative media. Then, working with this sense of value, I focus on the digital-age technologies of creative-labor extraction from cultural communities used by Disney and the relationship of these media-tech extractive practices to diverse female consumer subjectivities produced to create Disney’s worldwide sf/f lifestyle empire. I analyze data from my passive and participatory observation conducted at Disney Parks and Universal Studios Parks (and resorts) alongside those from fieldwork done at alternative fantasy franchise and non-franchise leisure sites within the community, framing those findings against the scripted production of fantasy narrative by Disney writers (i.e., the company’s ideological representations).

Second, I am developing ideas on the ways that non-Native allies of global Indigenous peoples can aid pragmatically in the production of Indigenous sf/f mass-media narratives reflecting community storyworlds and survivance. As a settler ally of Indigenous creative artists, I look specifically at the workplace dynamics of commercial, academic, nonprofit, and artistic institutions where the enervating navigation of liberal institutional racism/settler colonialism, often gets in the way of Native media expression of cultural histories, ethics, and values. (This is an extension of my dissertation on the politics of sf/f genre blending as a means of expressing minority-community spiritual worldviews, via teleplay writing and TV producing.) Today, I am learning to produce Indigenous sf/f films, the daily, difficult, sometimes high-stakes making of which I am reflecting upon so as to figure out a sort of playbook for media allies.  I am interested in problem solving the intimate and dysfunctional institutional relationships born of settler colonialism and imperial racism, in light of the immediate workplace stakes of decisions over textual representation but also of how to optimize (in practical ways) creative autonomy for Indigenous mediamakers and storytellers working in contemporary mass-expressive forms which might be co-created or co-produced by non-Native creative workers or bosses.  Specific interpersonal practices of patience and empathy especially become affective technologies with which to bridge sometimes seemingly non-reconcilable gaps in historical difference, functioning both as decolonial education and harm reduction.

Hoping everyone is healthy and well these days, as we head into the holiday season!

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SFRA Review is the flagship publication of the Science Fiction Research Association since 1971.

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