Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism 16: Postcolonial/Global Ecologies (June 18th)

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Dr. Sharae Deckard/ Green Letters, Journal of ASLE-UK
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Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism (Number 16): Postcolonial/Global Ecologies

Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, the journal of ASLE-UK (the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment), explores interdisciplinary interfaces between humans and the natural and built environment. Submissions are invited for our Winter 2012 edition which will focus on postcolonial/global ecologies.

Originating within the American and English academies, ecocritical discourse has in past decades exhibited a pronounced tendency towards solipsism and at times, ethnocentrism, in its primary focus on English and American national literary traditions and ecologies. In reaction, recent publications such as Ursula Heise’s Sense of Place, Sense of Planet, Graham Huggan’s and Linda Tiffin’s Postcolonial Ecocriticism, and Pablo Mukherjee’s Postcolonial Environments have challenged the field not only to expand its canon to include non-Anglo-American literatures but also to address ecologies and environments outside of England and America and to propose new theoretical paradigms of globality or cosmopolitanism in response to global crisis and accelerated environmental degradation throughout the Third World.

The nascent field of postcolonial ecocriticism has been observed by some critics to be mired still in analysis of “eco-centric” content or in aesthetic assumptions about mimesis that have already been problematized in mainstream ecocritical discourse. Other problems might include the disproportionate analysis and consecration of a handful of writers (cf. Ghosh, Sinha, Roy, Yamaguchi) whose texts seem to “fit” the theory to the exclusion of other forms, discourses and writers throughout the world; the fetishization of critique of binaries such as the West vs. the Rest or the colonizer/colonized which do not adequately represent the complexity of global environmental relations; or the difficulty of mobilizing global narratives of scientific environmentalism given the incommensurabilities of the impact of climate change on local cultures and environments-- whether the Sahara or the Sundarbans--and the wariness of endorsing imperialistic or universalizing Western discourses which potentially exclude local knowledge.

This special issue of Green Letters is dedicated to deepening discussion of the postcolonial and the global, and in particular, to theorizing how eco-aesthetics might encode both the economic world-system and the planetary, registering both first and second nature; produce formal revolutions which reflect non-Euro-American ecologies rooted in the specificity of local place; gesture towards ecoglobalist perspectives of environmentality; or generate an understanding of the political, cultural, and aesthetic differences between literary and critical approaches to the environment across multiple national traditions but also of the structural homologies and similarities of concern, particularly in those ways in which literatures respond to the uneven development projects of global capital and their impact on local environments and subjects.

The editors encourage submissions which attempt to theorize the complexity of current relations between different cores and peripheries throughout the world-system or the various formations of new imperialism and exploitation in relation to non-Anglo-American environments and ecologies. The formulation of “the West” vs. the “rest” is clearly insufficient here: what is the impact, for instance, of Chinese development, both within China and without, in Africa or the Pacific, and how is this represented in literature, whether on the level of content or form? Or what are the internal fissures of ecological and environment issues in Europe? Finally, the recent “airborne event” of the volcanic ash cloud emitting from Iceland was significant in its disruption of the seemingly unmappable circulations of humans and commodities, offering a glimpse of the ordinarily invisible global system and its contingency to the natural world, staging the absurdity of oil dependency and fragility of just-in-time delivery, and briefly enabling the imagination of what a far greater environmental crisis might entail. How might literary and cultural texts participate in a similar staging or mapping of a global imaginary?

Topics could include, but are not restricted to:

• How literature stages the intersections and tensions between social and environmental ethics in postcolonial or non-Anglo-American states
• How social and political crises are environmentally embedded and mediated aesthetically through formal and generic experimentation: not merely on the level of content
• How environmental discourses, aesthetics or theories (which have often been shaped to Western ends) are recalibrated, jettisoned, or transformed in different cultural/environmental contexts
• How relations between the local/national/global are mediated/represented in postcolonial and world literature
• Potential problematics/exclusions/blind spots of dominant theories of globality, planetarity, cosmopolitanism, or bioregionalism in relation to specific ecologies or literary fields
• Theorization of new methodologies of comparativism which consider different locations in the world-system alongside “earth-systems”
• A political ecology or analysis of the world literary field – why, for example, are a small handful of texts “consecrated” while the vast majority of texts are unconsidered?

Green Letters is a peer-reviewed journal. Please note that each article should be accompanied by a brief biographical note. Articles should be typed double spaced, with references in the author-date style and with few, if any, footnotes (a more detailed style sheet will be provided on acceptance). Manuscript length should be between 4000 and 6000 words. Eventual submissions should be made via email with a MS Word attachment of the document. Please note also that articles should have a broad ecocritical flavour and be informed, to some degree, by ecological theory.

To have a submission considered please send an abstract (approximately 500 words) to The abstract should be sent as an anonymous attachment in Word document format along with a covering email giving your name, address and institutional affiliation. The deadline for abstracts is Friday 18 June. A decision as to which articles will be commissioned will be made by mid-July and the deadline for first draft submissions will be the end of January 2011.

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