The Fremen in "Dune"


Despite being set in the distant future on a remote desert planet, the story of resource extraction, power, politics, ecology, and religion told in Frank Herbert's sci-fi series Dune bears distinct parallels to real-world history and events. One example of Herbert's real-life inspirations comes in the characters of the Fremen, who Herbert based on both the Bedouin in the Middle East and Native American peoples. How are nomadic Indigenous peoples incorporated into and represented in Herbert's fictional universe, and what can we learn about real people and their history from these fictionalized representations? In this episode, I'm joined by Dune expert Dr. Kara Kennedy to discuss the Fremen of Dune , the inspirations and intentions behind the novels, Orientalism and literary representations of Islam and the Middle East, and what science fiction can teach us about both history and the future.

Dr. Kennedy's book Women’s Agency in the Dune Universe: Tracing Women’s Liberation through Science Fiction is available here. Dr. Kennedy writes articles about Dune aimed at a general audience on her blog here. Follow Dr. Kennedy on Twitter @drkarakennedy and @dunescholar

Music in this episode: Desert City by Kevin MacLeod. License.

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Maggie Freeman

Maggie Freeman is a PhD candidate in the School of Architecture at MIT. She researches uses of architecture by nomadic peoples and historical interactions of nomads and empires, with a focus on the modern Middle East.

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