Bridging Critical Race Theory and Lockean Social Contract Theory: Derrick Bell’s “The Space Traders” as Proto-Racial Contract Theory

Erik Nolan


The paper below was written for a course that focused on nonrealist literary works by authors of the African diaspora, framed within a larger diasporic tradition known as Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism, as Lisa Yaszek explains, is a “term . . . generally credited to [Mark] Dery,” who defines it as “’speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses AfricanAmerican concerns in the context of 20th century technoculture — and more generally, African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future’ to explore how people of color negotiate life in a technology intensive world” (Yaszek, “Afrofuturism, Science Fiction, and the History of the Future”).  As Erik Nolan points out in his work below, however, Afrofuturist work can also deploy science fiction tropes to analyse social and political structures beyond the “technology intensive world.” As Nolan argues, Derrick Bell uses the standard science fiction trope of alien abduction specifically to explore the problems of the legal system in the US: a system that purports to be unbiased but is, in practice and theory, built on the exclusion and exploitation of Black people. — Dr. Jason Haslam

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