Migrant Futures

Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: 10 illustrations Published: May 2017

Author: Aimee Bahng

American Studies, Asian American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory

In Migrant Futures Aimee Bahng traces the cultural production of futurity by juxtaposing the practices of speculative finance against those of speculative fiction. While financial speculation creates a future based on predicting and mitigating risk for wealthy elites, the wide range of speculative novels, comics, films, and narratives Bahng examines imagines alternative futures that envision the multiple possibilities that exist beyond capital’s reach. Whether presenting new spatial futures of the US-Mexico borderlands or inventing forms of kinship in Singapore in order to survive in an economy designed for the few, the varied texts Bahng analyzes illuminate how the futurity of speculative finance is experienced by those who find themselves mired in it. At the same time these displaced, undocumented, unbanked, and disavowed characters imagine alternative visions of the future that offer ways to bring forth new political economies, social structures, and subjectivities that exceed the framework of capitalism.


"Compelling and unique . . . Aimee Bahng's skillfully made point: that the emerging field of critical finance studies, paired with feminist science studies, can help to reconfigure not only literary criticism but also Americanist, anti-/decolonial scholarship, queer theory, and science fiction studies. Migrant Futures truly sits at the edges of disciplines and casts its illuminating light over all of them." — Sean Guynes, ASAP/Journal

"In her readings of various Asian and Asian American texts and experiences, Aimee Bahng makes a significant intervention into Asian futurism. Instead of struggling to identify a specific Asianness in futurity, Bahng’s work attempts to connect Asian futurism with other neocolonial, postcolonial, and imperial experiences." — Eunice Sang Eun Lee, Situations

"The ideas in Migrant Futures are big, novel, and fantastic. But more than that, the structure itself is an act of academic decolonization and speculation." — Joshua Earle, Catalyst

"Illuminating. . . . Aimee Bahng’s ambitious book contributes to the nascent but growing field of critical finance studies, as well as to the more established tradition of scholarship on racial capitalism." — Gabriella Friedman, American Quarterly

"Rarely does an academic monograph leave its readers feeling buoyant, but Migrant Futures succeeds at doing just that. Bahng’s stellar book demonstrates that doomsday prophecies about capitalism’s all-encompassing power come to their pessimistic conclusions by way of an atrophied cultural canon." — Christine Okoth, Journal of American Studies

"Aimee Bahng’s Migrant Futures offers a bold intervention into the future: both in the sense that it charts new ground for speculative thinking about the landscape of futurity as well as its stunning capacity to reshape the future of Asian American and ethnic studies." — Keva X. Bui, Journal of Asian American Studies

"Bahng analyses the ways in which real-world economic practices, fictional texts, media coverage of recent events, and deeper, often forgotten histories (as well as the remembered histories that obscure them) are imbued with speculation; they all construe some pasts, and promote some futures (while suppressing others), so as to fantasize the present as the past cause of particular futures-to-come. Her focus on the global undercommons . . . could not be more timely." — Mark Bould, Extrapolation

"Elegantly written and meticulously researched, Migrant Futures breaks new ground in taking a comparative ethnic approach to Asian American literature and culture through the genre of speculative fiction. Scholars interested in critical ethnic studies, Marxist approaches to literary studies and gender and queer theory will be educated and persuaded by Aimee Bahng's compelling theorization of how speculation and economic extraction have traditionally gone hand in hand." — Rachel C. Lee, author of The Exquisite Corpse of Asian America: Biopolitics, Biosociality, and Posthuman Ecologies

"Presenting readers with alternative visions of the future, Aimee Bahng's ambitious book turns attention to the dominant way in which we think of futurity: financial speculation. Against the ways the functioning of derivative markets depend upon a particular kind of storytelling about the future, which is often bet against, Bahng amasses an archive of fictional works that seeks to counter such storytelling by imagining and sharing a different version of the future. A stellar and important work." — Min Hyoung Song, author of The Children of 1965: On Writing, and Not Writing, as an Asian American


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Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Aimee Bahng is Assistant Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at Pomona College.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface  ix
Acknowledgments  xiii
Introduction. On Speculation: Fiction, Finance, and Futurity  1
1. Imperial Rubber: The Speculative Arcs of Karen Tei Yamashita's Rainforest Futures  25
2. Homeland Futurity: Speculations at the Border  51
3. Speculation and the Speculum: Surrogations of Futurity  79
4. The Cruel Optimism of the Asian Century  119
5. Salt Fish Futures: The Irradiated Transpacific and the Financialization of the Human Genome Project  146
Epilogue. Speculation as Discourse, Speculation as Exuberance  168
Notes  171
Bibliography  201
Index  217
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Winner of the 2018 Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Book Prize.

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6379-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6364-4
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