Reading Indigenous Struggles: Resistance to Extraction in Global English

deadline for submissions: 
December 25, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Alok Amatya/ Georgia Tech

This is a call for abstracts for a panel submission to the 2020 Annual Conference of the Association for Postcolonial Anglophone Studies (GAPS). Please submit a 300 word abstract for your proposed conference paper, along with your name, email address, and institutional affiliation. Your abstract should summarize your conference paper’s subject, argument, methodology, and contribution to the field. Please read the panel description and the prompts below, and submit your abstracts to no later than Dec 25, 2019. Selected abstracts will be included in the panel submission before Dec 31, 2019. 

The conference will take place from 21-24 May at the Goethe University Frankfurt  in Frankfurt, Germany. For details, please visit:




Reading Indigenous Struggles: Narratives of Resistance to Extraction in Global English


Writing in English has facilitated the globalization of dissent, allowing stories of local environmental justice movements from ostensibly remote places be heard around the world. In the early 1990s, Ogoni author and leader Ken Saro-Wiwa contributed decisively to the global discourse of indigeneity, arguing that the Ogoni and 200 other ethnic groups of the Niger Delta region are the indigenous peoples of Nigeria. Saro-Wiwa’s memoir A Month and A Day (1995) and his other writings in English added to the legibility of indigenous struggles around the world, against the extraction of oil, minerals, and other valuable resources from their homelands. Thus, global English as a medium has allowed for the expansion of indigenous identity movements beyond settler-colonial nations, to minority peoples living in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Within a few years after the publication of Saro-Wiwa’s memoir, author Arundhati Roy drew attention to the mass displacement of indigenous peoples in India by the construction of big dams, in her landmark essay “For the Greater Common Good” (1999). Roy’s writing and her speaking engagements haved served to increase the visibility of resistance to big dams in Brazil, Sudan, Laos, China, and several other countries. Roy’s subsequent essay “Walking with the Comrades” (2010) depicts indigenous rebellions in east-central India against the rapid expansion of mining by a nexus of state forces and multinational companies. Roy’s interviews with indigenous women in the Dandakaranya forest region of India centers their struggle against displacement, armed violence, toxic pollution, gender violence, incarceration, and police brutality. The corpus of these two authors alone reveals that global English serves as an important medium for narrating indigenous struggles against the agents of extraction industries, such as logging, mining, oil drilling, & fracking. At the same time, narratives of indigenous struggles are available in several other cultural and media forms, for instance, Helon Habila’s novel Oil on Water (2010), Hassan Blasim’s short stories in The Corpse Exhibition (2013), and Ernesto Cabellos’ documentary film Daughter of the Lake (2015). 

Abstract submissions can respond to these and other related questions: How should we expand our notion of World Literature to include indigenous voices from around the world? Which issues of cultural and intellectual mediation inflect narratives of indigenous resistance? What is the role of literary narratives in portraying flesh-and-blood indigenous communities that are placed at harm by extraction industries? How can we trace the globalization of dissent through the circulation of cultural forms, vocabularies of protest, authors, activists, and visual & textual media? What is the role of public intellectuals like Arundhati Roy and Ken Saro-Wiwa in the fight against environmental injustices? What are the unique cultural traits found in the struggle against extraction by indigenous activists and laborers in any specific part of the world?