This project explores how science fiction can be used to examine social justice issues in our contemporary world. I will explore two case studies from the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series through a framework of race, empire, and orientalism. Walidah Imarisha’s notion of “visionary fiction” is utilized as a lens to explore how speculative fiction can serve as a tool to understand critical real world issues, and how The Clone Wars allows audiences to envision more just futures. These case studies surround the oppression faced by alien communities in The Clone Wars and are connected to issues of empire and racial inequality experienced by Muslims and Black people in the United States.
The first case study uses Edward Said’s Orientalism as a framework to discuss the roots of Islamophobia, empire, the “clash of civilizations”. I connect Said’s work to the treatment of the Talz, an indigenous alien race in The Clone Wars, who face settler-colonial violence and ethnic cleansing from the Pantorans, a group represented by the Republic. I go on to contend how the dehumanization targeting alien communities manifests itself in systematic racism on Coruscant, the capital of the Republic. My second case study will examine the treatment of Ahsoka Tano, a female non-human character, under the Republic’s criminal justice system. Here, I will suggest that the injustices she faces mirror those facing Muslims and Black communities in the United States as a result of a criminal justice system that often presumes them guilty. Overall, these themes allow audiences to understand how The Clone Wars shows how an institution with democratic values, such as the Republic, ultimately transitions into the authoritarian Galactic Empire.