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Testimonies of Environmental Injustice in the Global South
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Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature
Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature seeks scholarly articles examining testimonial literatures that document environmental injustice from throughout the Spanish-speaking and Francophone Global South.
Scholars have disputed testimony—or a text that gives voice to subaltern subjects bearing witness to violent events—since Cuba’s Casa de las Américas first awarded a prize in testimonio in 1970. Although initially conceptualized as a separate literary genre in Latin America, testimonial literature can be found throughout the world as subaltern texts that often contest official versions of oppression, atrocities and abuse. Initially viewing testimonies as “true,” non-fiction narratives of witness, critics now accept a broader genre of testimonial literature that includes creative work in narrative, poetry, theatre, and the visual and performing arts. These diverse texts share in common both their urgent accounts of violence and a collective, cultural critique of hegemonic power structures that reinforce and reproduce political, economic and social violence in myriad forms.
After a particularly bloody twentieth century of human warfare, genocide, and repression, the new millennium faces different challenges to human rights in the guise of environmental violence, especially in the forms of environmental hazards (e.g., pollution, GMOs), the abuse and depletion of natural resources, and climate change. Also caused and exacerbated by human actions, environmental violence impacts disproportionately the poor communities of the developing nations of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, collectively known as the Global South. Particularly vulnerable due to tropical locations, precarious living conditions, and neoliberal economic practices, the peoples of the Global South increasingly find themselves victims of environmental injustices that accompany environmental degradation and climate-driven natural disasters, such as hurricanes, extreme flooding, drought, mudslides, and changes in ocean temperature and sea level.
This special issue of Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature will explore testimonial literatures written in Spanish or French from across the Global South as cultural responses to violations of environmental human rights. Bringing diverse critical theories into conversation with ecocriticism, authors will examine how the environmental injustice can be remembered, challenged, and transformed through testimonial literature.