Speculative World-Makings: The Environment and Human-Nonhuman Encounters in 21st.C Postcolonial Literary Imaginations
Postcolonial literary and cultural traditions have been always curious about worldmaking with nonhumans. In their introduction to Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment (2011), Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey and George B. Handley highlight how environmental elements and nonhuman characters have been key witnesses to the injustices of colonialism, globalization, and neo-liberal forms of violence in postcolonial fiction and non-fiction. Upamanyu Pablo Mukherjee discusses the importance of an ethical, materialist approach to ecocriticism in the contemporary Indian novel in English in Postcolonial Environments (2010) while Radhika Govindrajan unpacks human-animal relationships in her book Animal Intimacies - an ethnographic account of how such kinships shape everyday lives and communities in the mountain villages of India’s Central Himalayas. Most recently, historian Dipesh Chakravarty has advocated for the urgent need for a new mode of “species thinking” in the age of the Anthropocene versus conventional anthropocentric modes of historicizing our life worlds in his essay “The Climate of History: Four Theses” (2009).
Inspired by the aforementioned conversations, this panel is interested in how 21st. Century postcolonial literatures conceive of such world-makings with nonhuman subjects. We are interested in how postcolonial authors have created life worlds at intersections of the human and nonhuman to offer a dis-anthropomorphic perspective on our world and what that has achieved, how our pasts and presents have been reconfigured in these new ways, and their imaginations of extra-human planetary futures. In terms of genre, we’re excited about thinking through these questions via conventional sci-fi as well as new, emergent genres such as cli-fi or climate fiction, eco-weird, eco-gothic, eco-queer, and eco- futurist amongst others. Possible lines of enquiry include but are not limited to:
- How do these speculative narratives problematize, expand, and/or supplement the scope of postcolonial ecocriticism as it exists today?
- How do they engage with and extend animal, plant, or thing studies theories?
- How do they compare with predominant academic and popular cultures of eco-fiction in the Global North?
- What new forms, techniques, languages, and genres of writing have they birthed?
- How might they redefine critical theoretical terms like “human” and “humanity,” “nonhuman,” “contact zones,” “planetary,” “animal,” “animism,” “justice,” “equity,” and “equality” that have been central to postcolonial and environmental studies?
- Gender, class, caste, race, and sexuality in these works.
- How might they redefine the Western concept of the “Anthropocene” from a postcolonial perspective?
Proposals should be submitted through the ACLA portal by September 23 along with a brief 50-word bio. Questions may be directed to Amit R. Baishya (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Sreyoshi Sarkar (email@example.com)