Over the last two years, I’ve been developing a theoretical and critical framework titled ‘Subaltern Futurism’. Subaltern Futurism is envisioned as a speculative resource framework for artistic research, practice and the technological education of marginalised. Drawing from anti-caste literature, critical race theory, bahujan solidarity practices among other guiding experiences, it asks if artistic practice can become pedagogical tools to communities that are excluded from regular access to critical discourse around contemporary art & technology. The framework views technology through a sociological lens, as a fundamental right and shared resource. It expands upon Gramsci’s post-colonial notion of the Subaltern as ‘colonial populations who are excluded from the hierarchy of power’ to include the current state of digital colonisation, the shared sites for the digital commons and sections of technology users rendered ‘subaltern’ due to the capitalist pursuit of efficiency. Subaltern Futurism speculates that developing empathic relationships with technology through a range of critical & pragmatic actions can assist in the imagination of radical futures that are diverse, inclusive and conducted from multiple geographies especially arising from the global south and from contexts outside of euro-centric biases of inquiry. By considering a very wide scope at the outset, it is envisioned as a multi-year generative project occurring as various modular forms and widely disseminated within the ethos of open access.
Subaltern Futurism centers the planetary as a multi-modal, sensorial experience. In expanding the notion of the term subaltern and placing it outside of a capitalist transactional site, it is cognisant that any imagination of a techno-future must begin with the acknowledgement of the violence of extraction that leads to the destruction of the planet and that the very imagination of Subaltern Futures is an act of solidarity with marginalised communities everywhere. In addition, drawing from a wide range of community practices of care across multiple subaltern groups starting with my own Dalit identity it seeks to bring together thinking around Ecology, Sociology & Ritualistic Practices across several forms that span artistic works, podcasts, publications, workshops, lectures, performances as well as the creation of pedagogical materials aimed to be distributed through a decentralised open access resource.
Here’s a link to a few introductory texts and writings on Caste and Race that have influenced the development of the framework and are referenced across several of my works.
Bahujan – Umbrella Term for Marginalised Castes in South Asia
Dalit – The lowest caste categorised as untouchable.
Untouchability is still widely practiced all over South Asia, its Diaspora in the UK and elsewhere. It is the dominant segregationist tool employed to deny fundamental rights to members of Bahujan communities.