Feminist Duration Reading Group: Octavia Butler and Khairani Barokka

6 December 2018

Thu 6 Dec, 6.30 – 8.30pm
Mimosa House, 12 Princes Street, London W1B 2LL
Free & open to all
Book your place here 

Following recent meetings of the Feminist Duration Reading Group on writers of experimental fiction – including by Brazilian Clarice Lispector and Korean-American Theresa Hak Kyung Cha – this session puts in conversation Octavia Butler’s cyberfeminist novel Dawn with recent poems by London-based Indonesian writer Khairani Barokka.

The meeting, which is led by Giulia Antonioli, will be hosted at Mimosa House Gallery. It resonates with their current exhibition “Alter Heroes Coalition” that presents a series of artworks examining the concept of identity and its construction, cultural displacement, denaturalisation and becoming other.

Considering Butler’s novels to have operated as a critical reference point for several generations of theorists of feminism and cyberfeminism, from Donna Haraway to Sadie Plant and Luciana Parisi, we will examine a text from the first novel of Butler’s Xenogenesis’ trilogy, Dawn, 1987. In a world devastated by a nuclear war that left the earth uninhabitable and humanity at the edge of extinction, Butler elaborates on the idea of anti-naturalism and the implications of alien becoming and becoming alien. For the characters of her novels the necessity of surviving forces them up against and beyond the limits of what it means to be human and what happens when gender, sexuality, identity, race and kinship collapse or no longer count.

Pushing the boundaries of poetry, performance art and storytelling, Khairani Barokka’s performative poetries examine how technology challenges understandings of nature and identity. Her works look at collective care and attention as the elements of psychic life that intersect with cultural, historical, and social constructions of identity and subjectivity. Many of her works look at disrupting hierarchical structures of power and heteropatriarchal systems of white supremacy and how these structures perpetuate an ableist world. She calls to attention traverses and trespasses of, to, upon bodies, both human/female and geographical/environmental, and draws precarious lines connecting points of toxicity and “unrest” in different nation-bodies of Southeast Asia.


Together we will read:

Selection from Octavia Butler’s Dawn, 1987

Poems by Khairani Barokka drawn from Eve and Mary Are Having Coffee and published in The Missing Slate.

Please bring copies with you. No advance reading is required as we will read together, out loud, on the night.

The Feminist Duration Reading Group focuses on under-known and under-appreciated feminist texts, movements, and struggles from outside the Anglo-American feminist tradition. Started at Goldsmiths, University of London, in March 2015, since July 2015 it has been generously hosted by SPACE in Hackney.  The group also regularly meets in non-institutional spaces, including in community centres and in the homes of friends of the group where cooking and eating combines with reading and talking.

The Feminist Duration Reading Group welcomes feminists of all genders and generations to explore the legacy and resonance of art, thinking and collective practice from earlier periods of feminism, in dialogue with contemporary practices and movements. It is led by the Feminist Duration Working Group whose current members are Giulia Antonioli, Angelica Bollettinari, Lina Džuverović, Sabrina Fuller, Lily Evans-Hill, Félicie Kertudo, Mariana Lemos, Roisin O’Sullivan, Ceren Özpinar, Sara Paiola, Helena Reckitt, and Justin Seng.

If you would like to join the reading group mailing list, propose a focus for a subsequent session, or invite us to lead a meeting, please write to feministduration@gmail.com.