The Problem with Nature in Race and Ethnic Studies ASA 2010 November 18-21

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American Studies Association
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We are looking for interested parties to complete a roundtable at
the 2010 American Studies Association Convention, to be held November 18-21 in San Antonio, TX. Please e-mail immediately if you are interested. See below for details:

The Problem with Nature in Race and Ethnic Studies

Chair/Moderator: Evie Shockley

Roundtable Participants: George Handley (BYU), Britt Rusert (Temple), Sonya Posmentier (Princeton)

(Organizers: Britt Rusert & Sonya Posmentier)

This roundtable discussion will focus on the precarious status of nature in race and ethnic studies. Given the ways in which colonialism and slavery forced large populations into an often-brutal intimacy with the land, and given the centrality of urban cosmopolitanism in defining modern racial identities, the question of nature in the study of race and ethnicity is a vexed one. Nonetheless, inquiry into the histories and literatures that are the subject of race studies reveals a profound and productive engagement with the environment. Over the past several years, ecocritics have sought to make questions about race, class, gender, and sexuality central to their study of the environment. At the same time, scholars working from the perspective of race studies have recognized the need to respond to recent global ecological crises as well as the attendant displacement of communities and populations. This roundtable brings together scholars working from different sites within race and ethnicity studies to ask how a rigorous engagement with race studies might transform our thinking about the environment, and vice versa.

Each roundtable participant will offer a five minute position paper, drawing upon salient case studies and/or methodological resources from his or her field of study. Guided by questions from the moderator, we will proceed to a discussion attending to the similarities and differences in how this question has been approached in fields such as Black Studies, Latino/a Studies, Native American Studies and Asian American Studies. Other potential questions to be raised throughout the discussion include: How might we rethink the categories of "race" and "nature" by thinking them in relation to one another? To which chapters of history must we return and what texts must/can we read anew? What is the relationship between "nature" and the "natural" with respect to the study of race and ethnicity?

In addition to better understanding the racial and ethnic politics of the environment, we hope that our turn to the problem of nature might also re-animate central questions of our fields including, but not limited to, the history of slavery, debates over essentialism, property, citizenship, transnationalism, and the function of art.

Interested parties should send a one-page CV to ASAP.