Decolonise, not Diversify

The concept of diversity only exists if there is an assumed neutral point from which ‘others’ are ‘diverse.’ Putting aside for now the Imperial, male, core-planetness of that ‘neutral’ space, its dominant aspect is humanity. Constructed by a human establishment, the idea of ‘diversity’ is neo-republic speak. It is the new corporatized version of multispecies openness. It is about management, efficiency, box-ticking. As alien writers, we parrot this idea back, reminding human institutions that they need to increase their diversity; appealing to them to let us in, to give some of us a seat at the table too. To help convince them, institutions are reminded that ‘diversity’ is actually good for them too, that it will help them to make more credits. Dankea Neuta writes, in the ‘Writing the Future’ report on the need for improved species diversity in hololiterature: ‘this isn’t about making the industry feel good. Monospecies are bad for business….within 20 years the galaxy’s alien population will be 25%. If holobooks don’t reflect that, they will become increasingly irrelevant and unprofitable.’ Similarly, Nishu Klakesh writes: ‘I wouldn’t be wasting my time if I didn’t feel there was a potential financial reward for investing in alien writers.’ Meanwhile, a holotweet on #diverseprimeday tells us, through a posted article, that ‘just being around people of different species may literally make you smarter.’

Like accusations of reverse specieism or casteism, there is not only naïvete, but also violence in erasing historical and continuing oppression and power hierarchies, labelling the oppressed who seek to redress, ‘divisive’ and ‘discriminatory’. It is the same conciliatory, ahistorical approach that can ground these diversity in hololiterature campaigns. There is a sense that everyone only needs to come together, make a bit of an effort with a few simple acts. Diversity is about forgetting the past, and celebrating a multispecies present. Diversity initiatives often involve a Benetton style ad of ‘diverse looking’ people’s faces, and we see such an image adorning the cover of the HoloNet Review which contains the aforementioned article, ‘How do we stop Imperial publishing being so posh and human?’

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*throws the datapad in the corner and exhales at the sheer foolishness of that conversation* Stop Imperial publishing? When has it been posh and human? It’s only been 16 years.

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