Critical Race Theory

Authored by: Isiah Lavender

The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815351931
eBook ISBN: 9781351139885
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781351139885-37

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Abstract

Critical race theory is a vital theoretical apparatus with which to better understand cyberpunk, particular as cyberpunk’s evolution has been predicated in part upon overlooking, or outright suppressing, important voices that have as much to contribute to cyberpunk as the mode’s more ‘mainstream’ figures, including considerations of the digital divide, race relations, and the commodification of black bodies. This chapter therefore provides a broader understanding of cyberpunk by tracking the importance of such authors as Samuel Delany, Steven Barnes, Walter Mosley, Octavia E. Butler, Nnedi Okorafor, Nalo Hopkinson, and others who use their writings to address the empathic fallacies many other writers rely on, and shift the conversations to address the occlusion of race and outright racism within cyberpunk. At the same time, the rise of Afrocyberpunk presents exciting opportunities to begin thinking through complicated questions of racial inequality, citizenship and rights, freedom, and justice. In the end, the application of critical race theory to cyberpunk provides unique and much-needed explorations of racial hierarchies and intentional discrimination at the crossroads of technoculture, race, law, and power applied not only to cyberpunk but American culture writ large.

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