What is it about?

The two coauthors, Douglas Robinson and Svetlana Ilinskaya, approach reading Sense8 as a queer high-concept science-fiction version of what Homi Bhabha calls cultural translation, involving the hybridity of migratory or nomadic subjectivities: the migrant is her/himself translated from one country to another, one cultural category or enclosure to another, and in so doing is psychosocially hybridized.

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Why is it important?

Sense8 has been attacked as a liberal-humanist utopian conceit, saying that its "depiction of life in non-western countries is built out of stereotypes ... suffused with tourist-board clichés” (Claire Light). We read the show as designed not to create an accurate portrait of multicultural realities—to represent intersectional identity politics according to stabilized progressive norms—but to disrupt the language of television. We read the show as queering not just identity politics but the banality of identity politics—the ways in which normative identities and normative identity-formations are taken for granted in the popular Western media.


We are a husband-and-wife team, a literary translation scholar and a cultural studies scholar, and finding a common language to understand and interpret Sense8 proved difficult.

Professor Douglas J. Robinson
Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Queering the popular utopia through translingual science fiction: Sense8 as cultural translation, Perspectives, March 2022, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/0907676x.2022.2043396.
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