Writing Race, Class, and Gender in the Anthropocene

deadline for submissions: 
August 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
ASLE Biennial Conference / UC Davis / June 26-30, 2019
contact email: 

We are living in the Anthropocene, a geological epoch in which we wield power over the entire planet. But who, exactly, is the “we” in that sentence? As an imaginary, the Anthropocene allows “us” to understand “ourselves” as members of a species that is transforming “our” planet. As a material phenomenon, however, the Anthropocene divides “us” into disparate groups—whites and people of color, upper classes and working classes, men and women, citizens and refugees. How, in Bruno Latour’s terms, can we track the translations between nonhumans and humans? How, from Dipesh Chakrabarty’s perspective, can we straddle the thought rifts between the planetary and the global? How, ultimately, can we reconcile a universal human problem with our particular social positions? 

To engage with these questions, this panel seeks new work on literature, art, and other media. It centers on an open-ended provocation: How have race, class, and gender shaped the ways in which “we” represent, relate to, and reside in “our” environments? In turn, how do these identity categories illuminate and/or invalidate “our” position in the Anthropocene? Beyond that, this panel raises a series of historical questions: How have writers and artists of color developed new ways of representing environments, and how have they drawn on preexisting conventions? How have formerly colonized peoples illuminated environmental crises, and how have they reproduced ideological blind spots? How have working people supported mainstream environmental movements, and how have they developed unconventional strategies for socio-ecological struggle? How have diasporic webs depicted environmental issues that permeate across space and proceed over time, and how have deeply-rooted communities taken up site-specific concerns? Finally, how do the preceding inquiries reveal possibilities and/or problems at the intersections of Ethnic Studies, Postcolonial Studies, the Environmental Humanities, and other intellectual formations? 

As it recovers the past, this panel orients itself towards the future. Engaging, to cite the conference theme, with the “fire” that is increasingly enveloping our “paradise,” it asks how literature, art, and other media can help us engage with droughts along the U.S.-Mexico border, climate disasters in the Caribbean, and environmental conflicts throughout the Americas. Even as the new paradigm of the Anthropocene asks us to think as a species, then, this panel tries to learn how writers, artists, and culture-makers have imagined social and ecological change.  

Please submit a 300-word abstract and brief bio to Carlos Alonso Nugent (carlos.nugent@yale.edu) by August 30th, 2018.