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Dangerous Worlds: Imagining Race and Security after the New World Order Open Access

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Dangerous Worlds: Imagining Race and Security After the New World Order argues that black speculative fictions are critical for understanding America’s security ambitions since the Reagan Administration. Dangerous Worlds examines the intersections of culture and policy to make sense of the often-unspoken racial assumptions scaffolding security practices. Through analysis of what I term “security imaginaries”—racial fictions of threat and response—my work intervenes in the burgeoning field of cultural criticism that analyzes security practices. My project uniquely articulates the ways in which literature and culture contain the potential to dismantle and remake the way people understand security. For example, while some authors corroborate security regimes, others, especially authors of color including Octavia Butler and Colson Whitehead, use speculation to unravel the tenuous assumptions on which these regimes implicitly rely. My project reads speculative fiction alongside public policy precisely because security practice itself has become increasingly speculative, marked as much by conjecture about the future as it is by assessment of present threats. In chapters detailing the Reagan administration’s commitment to crafting a winnable nuclear war, the role of black peacekeepers in the so-called “unipolar moment,” fears of biological insecurity that emerged following the collapse of World Trade Center, and the rise of “black ops” in the latest phase of the War on Terror, Dangerous Worlds shows that security comprises an evolving set of fears and responses. Bringing the methods of literary and cultural analysis to bear on public policy, I reveal the deep-seated racial logics subtending both threat and response and show that speculative fictions are unique in their capacity to both perpetuate and respond to the aims of the security state. In short, my research concludes that speculative fictions serve as sites of contestation wherein identity is essential for challenging what have become natural assumptions about the dangerous world around us.

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