Post-colonial Literatures of Waste and Materiality

(Panel)


Comparative Literature

Elise Martorano (Clark University)

I wish to propose a panel that would focus on explorations of the continued implications of materiality and waste in literature.

The material consumption and by-now intrinsic materiality of the lifestyles of the so-called global north(s) have been proven to contribute to and furthermore directly instigate the political, cultural, environmental, economic, and corporeal devastation of social groups of the global south(s). I am concerned with how this needless cultural and social capital placed on consumption and possession breeds massive amounts of waste of physical and metaphysical resources: land, natural resources, labor, time, potential, and, most importantly, life in colonized and previously colonized areas. How do we see this phenomenon manifesting in literature? What authors are producing materials in which waste takes a central role, and what is the positionality of these authors in regards to systems of colonization and control? Waste theory is a relatively new line of inquiry—we as scholars can expand its horizons by beginning to recognize and analyze literature that speaks to the concerns of waste and materiality, and how abuse of the environment is integral to abuse of the subaltern.

This panel would be a traditional format paper panel comprised of 3-4 scholars from the disciplines of literature, cultural studies, environmental studies, or any other areas deemed relevant, presenting papers on global literatures that speak to the aforementioned concerns.

The waste produced by the material consumption and by-now intrinsic materiality of the lifestyles of the global north(s) has been proven to contribute to the political, cultural, environmental, economic, and corporeal devastation of social groups of the global south(s). This panel is concerned with how we see this phenomenon manifesting in literature. What authors are producing literature of waste and materiality, and what is the positionality of these authors in regards to systems of colonization and control? How does a treatment of these concepts foreground the immediacy of problems of postcoloniality?