Racial Fictions, Biological Facts: Expanding the Sociological Imagination through Speculative Methods

Benjamin, Ruha
Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience

The facts, alone, will not save us. Social change requires novel fictions that reimagine and rework all that is taken for granted about the current structure of society. Such narratives are not meant to convince others of what is, but to expand our own visions of what is possible: It is 2064. A reparations initiative that allows victims of police brutality to regenerate organs is well underway. A major new component of the initiative will be unveiled for the fiftieth anniversary of the Ferguson uprising, but the largest biobank in the country has been repeatedly hit by raiders intent on selling stem cells on the white market. Aiyana and her team of Risers have to find a way to secure the cell depository and revitalize the movement. Fictions, in this sense, are not falsehoods but refashionings through which analysts experiment with speculative methods, challenge ever-present narratives of inevitability, anticipate new racial formations, and test different possibilities for creating more just and equitable societies.