ASLE 2013--"Indigenous Environmentalisms in Postcolonial African Literature"

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Chengyi Coral Wu/University of Nevada Reno
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"Indigenous Environmentalisms in Postcolonial African Literature"
ASLE Biennial Conference, Lawrence, Kansas (May 28–June 1, 2013)

This panel welcomes proposals on topics that explore indigenous environmentalisms in postcolonial African Literature. Ursula Heise, in her afterword to Bonnie Roos and Alex Hunt’s Postcolonial Green (2010), argues that postcolonial ecocriticism should shift from a focus on social in/justice (content-oriented criticism) to addressing “questions of aesthetics” or “questions of literary form” in postcolonial literature—questions that explore the relationship between literary representations of environmental issues and social justice. Heise suggests that the emphasis on issues of in/justice in postcolonial ecocriticism is not enough because it would ignore literary particularities (literary aesthetics) in postcolonial literature in regard to its expression of environmental issues. Like Heise, Elizabeth DeLoughrey and George Handley, in their recent anthology Postcolonial Ecologies (2011) shift their focus on the postcolonial notion of nature/landscape as history, as emphasized in their Caribbean Literature and the Environment: Between Nature and Culture (2005), to a focus on the notion of environmental “imagination” and representation in postcolonial literature. DeLoughrey and Handley’s emphasis on the postcolonial “literary imagination” about the land or “a spatial imagination made possible by the experience of place” corresponds to what Heise reminds us: instead of paying attention mainly to issues of environmental in/justice in postcolonial literature, postcolonial ecocritics should also focus on the literary reconstruction and representation of postcolonial environments.
Inspired by Heise, DeLoughrey, and Handley, this panel will focus on “literary aesthetics” of African literature that explores the following questions: How do African authors represent the pre-colonial, colonial, and/or postcolonial environment in an African context? How do African authors use literature to convey an indigenous environmentalism? To what extent does African literature function to restore or reconstruct indigenous environmentalisms? And to what extent can we see African literature as a form of resistance against current environmental degradation in Africa caused by global capitalism and multi-national corporations’ exploitation of natural resources in Africa?
Please send 300-500 word abstracts for 20 minutes presentations to the panel chair Chengyi Coral Wu ( by Thursday, November 1, 2012.

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