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Fighting for the FutureEssays on Star Trek: Discovery$
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Sabrina Mittermeier and Mareike Spychala

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621761

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621761.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

‘Into A Mirror Darkly’

‘Into A Mirror Darkly’

Border Crossing and Imperial(ist) Feminism in Star Trek: Discovery

(p.243) ‘Into A Mirror Darkly’
Fighting for the Future

Judith Rauscher


This chapter argues that contemporary representations of border crossing on screen engage with a specifically 21st-century U.S. manifestation of what Lora Wildenthal in following Valerie Amos and Pratibha Parmar calls “imperial feminism.” It examines how the most recent product of the Star Trek franchise, the TV series Star Trek: Discovery (2017–ongoing), interrogates the legacies of U.S. imperialism and, less overtly so, of U.S. imperial feminism. The analysis focuses on the geographical as well as the metaphorical border crossings that occur in the series when the crew of the Federation starship Discovery jumps to an alternative universe which is dominated by the fascist Terran Empire. It argues that Star Trek: Discovery can be read as a feminist text that exposes the limits of two very different kinds of post-sexist futures: one, the Mirror Universe, in which the empowerment of women depends on openly imperialist and racist ideologies and another, the Prime Universe, in which these ideologies threaten to make a comeback in the context of violent conflict. By contrasting these two possible futures and by connecting them through instances of border crossing, Star Trek: Discovery not only speaks to issues of intersectional feminist critique, it also responds to the political, social, and cultural changes in the United States leading up to and associated with the Trump administration.

Keywords:   Star Trek, Star Trek Discovery, feminism, U.S. american imperialism, ideology, empowerment, border crossing

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