Unsettling Paradise in the Age of Extinction
Planned Format: Traditional Panel (4 Presenters)
Violence against beings that are not deemed human mirrors the violence against people of color who are routinely dehumanized or animalized by the shifting forces of capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism. In Animal’s People, Indra Sinha recounts the catastrophic toxic gas leak of 1984 in Bhopal that affected 300,000 people and countless animals making it one of the deadliest man-made ecological disasters in recent history. In Sinha’s novel, his protagonist, Animal, walks on all fours as an indictment of the man-made causes that dehumanize him. That humans are bestialized in order to then be abused and exploited is also indicative of the way animals are devalued and treated as disposable beings. This panel aims to examine the root causes that lead to the collective precariousness and devaluation of human and nonhuman beings.
In Western history, colonized spaces have often been perceived as tropical paradises that enthrall explorers and settlers over centuries. But these distant and “exotic paradises” are also feared as “The Heart of Darkness”—a fear that legitimizes the ongoing exploitation of such places and the indigenous communities who live there. Historically, settler colonialism has “animalized” and thus justified the oppression of marginalized peoples. Thus, this panel explores literatures from the Americas, Caribbean, Africa, South Asia and Oceania that expose how violent white settler colonialism continues to impact both human and animal lives.
Often, animal suffering evokes greater sympathy than humans as animals are seen as helpless victims in the age of man-made ecological catastrophe—the Anthropocene. How do capitalism and neocolonialism dehumanize/animalize vulnerable communities? How does the racial coding of animals impact humans and nonhumans? How is the conservation of “exotic animals” embedded in the long history of violent exoticism of native/indigenous peoples? How can we re-envision Animal Studies to recognize the entanglement of human and animal suffering? In what ways can we simultaneously recognize animal agency and work together to resist colonialist oppression? How can we problematize Western conservation efforts in formerly colonized nations? How can we challenge human/animal hierarchy? How can we reimagine a paradise that challenges the ways in which we value some animals at the expense of human lives or vice versa?
Topics/themes/theories to consider:
• Ethics of human & animal experimentation
• Postcolonial animal studies
• Postcolonial ecocriticism/zoocriticism
• Environmental Justice
• Animal domestication
• Animal rights/ethics
• Zoos/conservation zones
• Animal autobiographies
• Animal agency and affects
• Meat culture/factory farming
• Intersection of Animal Studies and race/gender/sexuality
• Narratives of dehumanization
• Cli-fi and animals
• White saviorism in animal conservation
• Extinction studies
Submit a 300-word abstract and a brief bio below by Dec 15th 2018.