From the SFRA Executive Committee
From the Vice President
Thanks to all participants in our “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging” (DEIB) hybrid session, held on June 29 during our Oslo summer conference. We on the Executive Committee appreciate Simran, Sabiha, Athira, Founder, Aishwarya, Manuel, Ingvill, SC, Larisa, Tânia, Flip, Jaak, Kara, Steve, Candice, Sara, Andrew, Sarah, Priteegandha, Chris, and others who attended, including those who shared these critiques and suggestions:
- This conference expanded the areas of representation compared to previous ones.
- The yet-unbalanced dynamic between whiteness/white scholars (often speaking for/about other cultures) and marginalized/regional groups (Indigenous peoples, etc.) remains the “elephant in the room.” Power still tends to flow in 1 direction.
- Accept conference papers/panels based in part on their DEIB balance issues; rethink paper-acceptance policy or conference-site proposal selection, by being more conscious of such issues.
- Fund projects with hands-on approaches to sf in regional communities (e.g., those working with child readers in India).
- Greater visual accessibility for presentations, with prepared subtitles or transcripts; or use the hybrid format to display papers’ words onscreen.
- The antiracism workshops should not only deal with U.S.-based racism but also European and other forms; we could also focus on methodology such as addressing ethics of researchers’ positionality/intersectionality; or such as ethics of Indigenous literary research in Europe (etc.).
- Appoint a careers-research officer and an equality/diversity/ inclusion officer. [Note: the EC decided to approach DEIB from many angles among various responsible charges, rather than hold 1 person responsible.]
- Support networks of emerging scholars from around the world, especially the Global South (being done in Germany and in Canadian studies); also, networks of early-career scholars in Europe and the Americas.
- Conference format marginalizes online participants. Facilitators should engage all participants including virtual ones. Greater inclusion in webinars may help online attendees feel less lonely, more engaged. [Note: In Europe, there are privacy issues with some online formats; signed author forms, however, might aid in this, and help address the question of why not distribute emails of all presenters?]
- Address larger question, “What is science fiction?,” from the perspective of different global populations.
- The sheer power of one keynote (Laura Ponce) unapologetically giving her talk in Spanish was appreciated.
- Consider providing child care (accessibility). [Note: Other conferences have found this issue tricky.]
- Give attendees the choice of 10- or 20-min. papers.
- Volunteer positions include conference committees and awards committees; however, compensation is an issue many.
- More formal mentorship is desired esp. for BIPOC folk.
- Better time zones needed for the bulk of the sessions.
- A roundtable, not of regular SFRA committee members, but of others, to discuss careers research and/or DEIB issues, might be a good idea.
- A Counter Space and a Keynote panel would be helpful, too.
- Join in on a global-sf translation publication project which includes fandom-generated works, put together by Larisa Mikhaylova (firstname.lastname@example.org) towards facilitating diversity in the field.
Keep sharing your ideas,
Ida Yoshinaga, VP