Eco-criticism in Times of Crisis

Partners and collaborators

The Leverhulme Trust, CHIA, Institute Cervantes, Camoes.

Ecocriticism in time of crisis

Description

Ever since the colonial period, dominant narratives have represented the ‘natural’ world as a source of capital to be exploited for political power and financial profit. At the same time, however, nature has been viewed as an ungovernable threat, a source of danger, anxiety and otherness that is situated beyond the reaches of human control and impact. Today, as new hazards arise from the consequences of the seemingly boundless capacity of capital to exploit natural resources, the natural world has been brought to the forefront of a number of different and often conflicting agendas. With the rise of environmental politics, the development of "green" economies, a surge in ecological warfare over limited resources, and the spread of cultural concerns surrounding ecological crises, nature has come to represent more of a threat and an opportunity than ever before.


Eco-criticism in Times of Crisis: 
Nature, Capital and Culture in the Hispanic and Lusophone Worlds

University of Leeds, Thursday 16 and Friday 17 June 2016

Confirmed Speakers include: 
Carmen Flys Junquera (Universidad de Alcalá)
Ana Isabel Queiroz (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
Eugenio Polgovsky (Filmmaker in residence: University of Cambridge)

Ever since the colonial period, dominant narratives have represented the ‘natural’ world as a source of capital to be exploited for political power and financial profit. At the same time, however, nature has been viewed as an ungovernable threat, a source of danger, anxiety and otherness that is situated beyond the reaches of human control and impact. Today, as new hazards arise from the consequences of the seemingly boundless capacity of capital to exploit natural resources, the natural world has been brought to the forefront of a number of different and often conflicting agendas. With the rise of environmental politics, the development of "green" economies, a surge in ecological warfare over limited resources, and the spread of cultural concerns surrounding ecological crises, nature has come to represent more of a threat and an opportunity than ever before.

In a context in which the turbulence of the new millennium derives largely from the encroaching 'triple crises' of food, finance and energy (Moore 2015), it is no longer possible to ignore the importance of ecological perspectives. Even as the world of scholarship has recognised that 'nature' is largely a cultural construction, citizens across the globe are suffering the very material effects of environmental exploitation that is often justified in dominant narratives. With the endemic drought in the Iberian peninsula, overfarming in Portuguese-speaking Africa, and the increasing presence of criminal actors in the business of resource extraction in Latin America, the symbiotic relationship between culture, capital and the devastation of the natural environment has never called out for more urgent attention. In these times of the intensification of ecological crises, this symposium will evaluate a range of eco-critical perspectives and their role in challenging the exploitation of nature and proposing alternative ways of interacting with the environment, particularly in the emerging and precarious economies of the Hispanic and Lusophone worlds.

In order to debate these themes this symposium welcomes short papers that consider the role of cultural narratives in interpretations of the relationship between the state, capital and nature. We invite papers from disciplines across the humanities that seek to (re)consider topics such as (but not limited to):

➢    environmental resistance and activism
➢    ecological futurisms and eco-fictions
➢    class, race and gender within environmentalism
➢    nature/culture dualisms
➢    dominant narratives and counter-hegemonic strategies
➢    eco-critical perspectives in digital media
➢    'green' capitalism and exploitation
➢    neo-colonial land-grabs 
➢    (neo-)indigeneity and nature
➢    the state and the natural world
➢    the political production and exploitation of ‘natural’ disasters
➢    resource extraction and the illicit economy
➢    conservationism, ‘clean’ energies and food futures
➢    transatlantic relations based on environmental concerns

What is eco-criticism?

We understand eco-criticism as an interdisciplinary movement that engages with different concepts of nature from a global perspective. By interrogating fetishized visions of the natural world and the environment, we seek to understand ‘nature’ in all its complexities and different interpretations. Dealing with landscapes, environments, and natural resources as they are mediated in different contexts, we understand nature, above all, as a fluid and changing concept. At the same time, we trace similarities between the ways in which the idea of nature is appropriated in different historical, cultural and geographical contexts. In so doing, we respond to current debate surrounding environmental catastrophes and energy crises, foregrounding Hispanic and Lusophone voices against the dominance of Anglophone scholarship.


 

Publications and outputs

Programme for Thursday June 16 2016

Time

Event

2.30pm

Welcome and Introductions

2.40pm

Panel 1: Bodies of Water: Corporeality, Hydraulics and (Trans)Atlantic Encounters

Jane Lavery (Southhampton University) and Sarah Bowskill (Queens University Belfast), ‘A Plastic Utopia?’ Scientific, Artistic and Literary Interdisciplinary (Counter) Responses to Ocean Plastics’

Manuel Barcia (University of Leeds), ‘"Cannibalism, Superstition and Transatlantic Navigation": The Peculiar Case of the Portuguese Schooner Arrogante in 1837’

Rebecca Jarman (University of Leeds), ‘”Si la naturaleza se opone lucharemos contra ella”: Gendered Violence and Ecological Crisis in Representations of Venezuela’s Vargas Landslides’

3.40pm

Coffee

4pm

Film Screening: Resurrección (94 mins) with director Eugenio Polgovsky

5.30pm

Discussion led by Rachel Randall (University of Leeds)

6.00pm

Launch of the Centre for Hispanic and Lusophone Studies with Wine Reception

Friday June 17

Time

Event

9.30am

Keynote 1:

Carmen Flys Junquera (University of Alcalá/ GIECO-Franklin Institute), ‘Looking at the Past/Looking to the Future: Extractivism vs an Ethics of Care in Juan Cobos Wilkins and Rosa Montero’

10.30am

Coffee

10.50am

Panel 2: Disinterments: Narrating Landscapes, Soils and Topographies

Jesse Barker (University of Aberdeen), ‘Cracked Earth: Individualism and Intersubjectivity in Jesus Carrasco’s Ecological Dystopia’

Helder Garmes (University of Sao Paulo), ‘Mining in the Goan Short Stories of Epitacio Pais’

Erica Segre (University of Cambridge), ‘Polvo/Polvoriento/Polvareda: The Poetics of Dust and Migration in writing and visual culture in Mexico’

M. Carmen Puche Ruiz (University of Seville), ‘Marshland, A Bordering Territory: Cinema and Tourism as an Incentive for Cultural Change’

12pm 

Panel 3: Urban Wastelands in the Global South: Bio-Politics, Contamination and Detritus

Lucy Bell (University of Surrey), ‘Connecting Storylines, Crime and Slow Violence: Martin Herrera’s La mitad mejor

Thea Pitman (University of Leeds), 'Waste Not, Want Not: the Ethics of Recycling in Latin American Digital Cultures'

Paul Castro (University of Leeds), ‘In the City of Men and Servants: The Urban Environment of Mozambican Photojournalist Ricardo Rangel’

1pm

Lunch and Networking

2pm

Keynote 2:  

Ana Isabel Queiroz (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), ‘Landscapes of Portugal in Two Hundred Years of Narratives’

3pm 

Panel 4: Becoming Animal? Representations and Experiences of the (Post)Human

Joey Whitfield (University of Leeds), ‘Natural Highs: Hallucinogens and the Posthuman in El abrazo del serpiente

Martin Veiga (University College Cork), ‘Querida mama: estou aprendendo a ladrar’: Language, Nature and Culture in Olgo Novo’s Poetry’

Lourdes Parra Lazcano (University of Leeds), ‘Dogs and Women Mexican Writers: An Ecofeminist Approach’

4pm

Coffee

4.20pm

Panel 5: Cosmic Ecologies: Telling the Past/Remembering the Future in Nature

Charles Pigott (University of Cambridge), ‘Indigenous Ecocriticsms: Ecological Voices in Mayan and Quechua’

Francesca Zunino (University of Bath), ‘Indigenous discourses of integrated Natureculture as anticipatory histories for transformative governance: pre-Hispanic Nahuatl narratives’

Daniel Mourenza-Urbina (Aston University), ‘Manual Sacristan and the Tradition of Eco-Socialism in Spain)

5.20pm

Closing Remarks

5.30pm

Informal Drinks and Dinner


Screening

Film director Eugenio Polgovsky will join us at the University of Leeds for a screening of his latest documentary Resurrección (Mexico, 2016). The film depicts the contamination of the Santiago river in Jalisco, Mexico (full synopsis below). After the screening there will be a Workshop incorporating critical reflections on the documentary.

This screening forms part of the symposium 'Eco-criticism in Times of Crisis: Nature, Capital and Culture in the Hispanic and Lusophone Worlds'. The filming is free of charge, but to help us manage numbers please book your by following this link. If you would like to register for the symposium's other activities, please do so here .

Resurrección: Synopsis
The waterfall of "El Salto de Juanacatlán" was once known as the "Mexican Niagara”, a source of immense joy and continuous sustenance for the villages surrounding it. This natural paradise disappeared when an industrial corridor was established across the Santiago River near to Guadalajara. Today its poisonous waters destroy everything in their path, including the memories of the fishermen and farmers who watched their whole world disappear. From among the toxic ruins of the river’s banks, ancient spectres emerge as an echo of a lost Eden. In "Resurrection" one family fights for survival, risking everything to pursue their dream of a return of clear waters. The destiny of a river goes hand in hand with that of a village, and humanity itself.

WHEN: Thursday, 16 June 2016 from 16:00 to 18:00

WHERE: Clothworkers' North Cinema (LT 2.31) - Clothworkers' Building North University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT