Human-Alien Encounters in Science Fiction: A Postcolonial Perspective

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An (un)conventional encounter between humans and alien beings has long been one of the main thematic preoccupations of the genre of science fiction. Such stories would thus include typical invasion narratives, as in the case of the three science fiction films I will discuss in the present paper: the Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956; Philip Kaufman, 1978; Abel Ferrara, 1993), The Host (Andrew Niccol, 2013), and Avatar (James Cameron, 2009). I will examine the films in relation to postcolonial theories, while attempting to look at the ways of revisiting one’s history and culture (both alien and human) in the films’ worlds that takes place in order to uncover and heal the violent effects of colonization. In my reading of the films I will shed light on the specific processes of identity formation (of an individual or a group), and the possibilities of individual and communal recuperation through memories, rites of passages, as well as hybridization. I will argue that the colonized human or alien body can serve either as a mediator between the two cultures, or as an agent which fundamentally distances two separate civilizations, thus irrevocably bringing about the loss of identity, as well as the lack of comprehension of cultural differences.

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