Affective Possibilities of Post/Decolonial Eco-literature (Seminar)
/ World Literatures (non-European Languages)
Valerie Fryer-Davis (Graduate Center, CUNY)
Sharanya Dutta (Graduate Center, CUNY)
As more climate doomsday predictions continue to surface from scientists, journalists, and scholars, the fight to combat global climate collapse can sometimes feel hopeless—petrified by the saturation of negative affects in literary, theoretical, and cultural production. While continuing with neoliberal business-as-usual is untenable, scholars have begun to recognize that doom and gloom predictions alone actually make individuals less likely to act. Reading through the earlier figurations of postcolonial ecocriticism by Helen Tiffin and Graham Huggan (attuned to the human/nonhuman relationship) and more recent work that explores other possible modes of engaging with the environment—“bad environmentalism” (Seymoure, 2018) or “dark ecology” (Morton, 2018)—teases out a new vocabulary to talk about the climate crisis. This panel addresses the role of eco-literature in navigating the tension between negative and positive affects. Given that our very culture is defined by overconsumption and exploitation of natural resources such as oil (Szeman et al., 2017), how can literature disrupt imaginaries and inspire action through positive affects? Since climate change often disproportionately impacts colonized populations, and then burdens these same populations with the work of conservation, this panel will focus on postcolonial and decolonial literature and theory that tackle this question. It will focus not just on the resilience and survival of people, but on how they build, create, and thrive in environments that have been irrevocably damaged or destroyed by extractive practices. How does literary production in all its forms—performance, speculative fiction, graphic novels, online blogs or posts, etc.—inspire positive action? This panel welcomes papers that explore the possibilities and limits of post/decolonial literature, theory, and affect in addressing the climate emergency.
This panel welcomes papers that explore the possibilities and limits of post/decolonial literature, theory, and affect in addressing the climate emergency and the power of people to build, create, and thrive and not just survive in decaying environments.