Ancestral Futures: Speculative Imaginings from the Archive


An Arts & Literary Magazine from UCR Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA)


Call for Submissions: Due November 22, 2023
Micro-fiction | Poetry | Digitized Art
Compensation: $50 Visa Gift Card for accepted submissions

What stories can we find in the archives about Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC)? Whose stories are missing, and what new creations can these archives (or the gaps in them) inspire?

UCR Special Collections & University Archives invites everyone, including members of the general public, artists, writers, poets, and creatives, to visit the archives and speculate how these materials can be reimagined, and metaphorically remixed, to tell new stories. We seek submissions that draw from Afrofuturism, Latinx/Chicanx Futurisms, Indigenous Futurisms, Asian Futurity, and related fields to explore how the intersection of art and archives can inspire new ideas, interpretations, and engagement with the past. Submissions must cite at least one archival item as the original inspiration behind the piece.


Please visit our Ancestral Futures Submission Form to apply. Submissions are open to anyone in the UC community (students, faculty, staff), as well as the general public.


  1. Call for Submissions Opens: Monday, September 25, 2023
  2. Submissions Due: Wednesday, November 22, 2023
  3. Notification of Acceptance: Friday, December 8, 2023
  4. Publication & Gift Card Pick-up (for accepted submissions only): February 1 - 29, 2024
  5. Digital Zine Available for Viewing: February 2024 

Workshops (optional)

Need help finding inspiration, prefer to create in community, or want to learn how to navigate the archive? Join us for an optional workshop:

Little Big Stories: Indigenous Micro Fiction and Futurism 
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
2:30 pm to 4:00 pm
Rivera Library, Room 140

  • This free workshop begins with an introduction to the archives, including step-by-step instructions on how to find and access materials for use in your submission. Dr. Wallace Cleaves (Gabrieleno/Tongva) will then share an introduction to Indigenous Futurism through the lens of micro fiction. We will end with a creative writing activity using materials from UCR Special Collections & University Archives as inspiration. Participants will have the opportunity to practice their writing skills and directly handle/interact with archival items in a welcoming and supportive environment. No prior experience (either with archives or micro fiction) necessary. All are welcome! RSVP on Eventbrite

Workshops are free and open to the general public. Since participants will be handling archival materials, the workshops will only be available in-person. We encourage you to submit your workshop creation(s) using the Ancestral Futures Submission Form. Participation in a workshop is encouraged, but NOT required to make a submission.

Rules for Entry

  • All submissions must cite at least one item from the holdings of UCR Special Collections & University Archives that served as inspiration for the piece. Multiple citations are welcome, if multiple items inspired the piece.
    • For print materials, please cite using the Chicago Manual of Style.
    • For archival materials, please cite using our preferred format:
      • [identification of item], [date if possible]. [Title of Collection] (Collection Number). Special Collections & University Archives, University of California, Riverside.
  • Submissions must relate to, or center, the histories, perspectives, and/or stories of Black, Indigenous People of Color. We recognize that these histories are often obscured, or silenced, in the archival record. Therefore, we understand the archival and print item(s) you cite may not contain direct representations of marginalized communities, but may still speak to these histories through their silences.
  • Submissions should be in the genre of speculative fiction and art, including (but not limited to) fields such as
    • Science fiction
    • Fantasy
    • Horror
    • Alternate histories
    • Utopias/dystopias
    • etc.
  • Any items from the holdings of UCR Special Collections & University Archives qualify for use in this program, including but not limited to:
  • No physical items may be altered or removed in the creation of your submission. You are welcome to photograph the item(s) and digitally remix/reimagine those images, but the physical item(s) must remain in their original, unaltered form.
    • Adobe Scan is a free mobile app that can facilitate efficient scanning of multiple documents.

Submission Guidelines

  • Submissions must be received by 11:59 pm on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 to be considered.
  • Digitized art is broadly defined– submissions can take the form of any work of art, including but not limited to: collage, printmaking, photography, painting, drawing, virtual art, etc. However, no physical piece of artwork should be submitted, only digitization/digital forms of the artwork will be considered.
  • Digitized art must be uploaded as .png or .jpg files.
  • Micro-fiction and poetry must be uploaded as .docx, .word, or .pdf files.
    • Word limit: 400 words
  • All submissions must be in a digital format; no physical submissions will be accepted.
  • Up to two submissions will be considered per individual. Individuals will only receive one $50 Visa gift card and one copy of “Ancestral Futures” regardless of how many submissions are accepted. The two submissions can be any combination of formats.

After Submission

Finalists whose submissions have been accepted for publication will receive a free print copy of “Ancestral Futures” and a $50 Visa gift card. These must be signed for with ID, and picked up from the UCR Special Collections & University Archives front desk during open hours from February 1, 2024 through February 29, 2024. If not picked up by February 29, 2024, the print copy and gift card are forfeited.

Email notifications will be sent to everyone who applies, including those who were not selected for publication. Even if a submission is not accepted, we recognize it still has value, and we thank you for the opportunity to review it and be inspired by it. 

Submissions will be reviewed by a Selection Committee composed of UCR faculty members, guest instructors, and librarians. They will critique works based on their adherence to the rules for entry and submission guidelines, their uniqueness, and their connection to the theme.


Please direct any questions, comments, or suggestions to Sandy Enriquez, Special Collections Public Services, Outreach & Community Engagement Librarian, at

Sponsored By

Ancestral Futures is co-sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Heritage and the UCR Library. We thank them for their generous support!