Laura Nash MA Critical Studies Thesis 2021
Crips Claim Space: Disabled Writers Resist Eugenicist Ideology Through Science Fiction
Science fiction presents a powerful tool for imagining and shaping the future. Problematically, most American science fiction reinforces eugenicist ideology, imagining futures in which humans have eradicated disability or disabled characters develop compensatory superpowers. These narratives cause real harm to disabled people by bolstering ableist beliefs that devalue any disabled person who can’t meet the demands of neoliberal capitalism. Fortunately, counterstories written by disabled authors have the potential to overturn these damaging master narratives. In this thesis, I examine the short stories “Hollow” by Mia Mingus and “Deep End” by Nisi Shawl, along with the novel Kea’s Flight by Erika Hammerschmidt and John C. Ricker, all three of which confront eugenicist realities and envision bright crip futures. These authors depict ordinary disabled people surviving and thriving on spaceships and in space colonies, creating accessible and caring communities built on crip kinship, brilliance, and interdependence. We need more science fiction stories like these to liberate our minds and illuminate paths forward.