University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > CRASSH > Climate Fictions / Indigenous Studies (24-25 January 2020)

Climate Fictions / Indigenous Studies (24-25 January 2020)

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Critical Indigenous studies can neither be perceived as niche, nor trivialized as topical. In the way climate-capitalism has become an existential threat, a sincere engagement with Indigenous knowledges has become ineluctable. This conference seeks to initiate a multidisciplinary conversation on climate change, as conceived by, and re-inscribed within, Indigenous literatures. So far within the small domain of English Humanities, contemporary climate fiction by Indigenous authors have presented an urgent need to converse with scientific and social-scientific approaches to climate change. Centring these literatures, especially at a university such as Cambridge that is itself implicated in climate capitalism, is vital to confront the racial nature of climate change discourse which overlooks those who are leading the resistance in theory and praxis. These literatures tie the material to the literary, forging new links between resurgence movements and academic scholarship. These literatures also provide a narrative space for the local exigencies of land to feature within a global discourse on climate.

Climate fictions by writers like Alexis Wright, Linda Hogan and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, among others, have shone critical light upon the effects of slow violence of climate change and the global political nexus of extractive governments and industries on the ecology and human lives. Within Indigenous climate fictions, much as within academic, journalistic and new hybrid forms of writing, long entrenched binary between the ‘human’ and ‘nature’ is itself reshuffled, just as existing anthropocentric anxieties of climate change are destabilized by the re-interrogation of the place of the human within the ecological.

At the same time, the change in climate is not in postponement, making it predictive, but in continuum with human history’s interaction with nature, tying settler-colonialism and resource-capitalism to catastrophes like flash floods, melting glaciers, and rising temperatures. Indigenous populations around the world are affected through forced dispossessions, that, in turn, have had a profound impact on their politics, cultures, languages, and literatures. The complicity of governments and academic institutions in abetting the ramifications of capitalism induced climate change has brought together an allied community of writers, scholars, activists, artists and filmmakers to form a network of strength and solidarity across nations. Several movements and landmarks like Idle No More, Dakota Access Pipeline Protest, Niyamgiri, and Uluru Statement from the Heart, builds upon a strong culture of protest within and outside the realm of Indigenous fictions.

Accommodation will be provided to all speakers at the conference. Dependent on the outcome of additional applications for funding for the event, travel bursaries may be available for participants selected through the Call for Papers. Preference will be given in the first instance to Indigenous delegates travelling from abroad. If you would like to be considered for travel support, please give details of your likely costs and any institutional support that may be available to you when submitting your proposal.

This talk is part of the CRASSH series.

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