ASLE 2021: Ecomedia and Empire

deadline for submissions: 
March 27, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Carlos Alonso Nugent
contact email: 

Conference: ASLE 2021

Panel: Ecomedia and Empire

For decades, the term ecomedia was little more than a convenient catch-all for photographs and films that engage explicitly with environmental issues. In recent years, however, ecomedia has acquired additional meanings: most concretely, it has become a basis for comparing the signifying strategies (verbal, visual, or any combination thereof) that humans use to represent nonhumans; more abstractly, it has become a way of acknowledging the extent to which media (from printed pages to internet servers) can be both human and nonhuman. Drawing on and developing these and other meanings, this panel explores the relations between ecomedia and empire. At some points, this panel sees synergies between its two key terms—it sees how maps have made it possible for states to control distant peoples, or how statistics have allowed businessmen to exploit complex places. At other points, this panel highlights tensions—it explains how Black ecomedia have circulated beneath and beyond plantation ecologies, and how Mescalero Apache pictographs have pierced through settler imagined environments. Because it sees ecomedia and empire for both their problems and their possibilities, this panel is able to revisit an old question about ecocriticism: if this field emerged through the celebration of capital-N Nature, and if it evolved by exploring a wider range of subjects (not just men, but women; not just whites, but racialized peoples) and spaces (the city as well as the country; the toxic workscape as well as the pristine wilderness), then it how will it reckon with a dizzying diversity of media? With presentations that blend the environmental humanities with Black studies, Latinx studies, Native studies, and other fields, this panel does not attempt to arrive at a definitive answer. Instead, it tries to linger with the questions—to show a few of the many ways that ecomedia have relied on, reacted against, and otherwise related to empire.

Please email proposals to Carlos Alonso Nugent ( by March 27. For information on ASLE 2021, see