HOTB2020 Panel 5.1: Against Climate Colonialism



Panel 5.1: Against Climate Colonialism

“Imagining Anthropocene Future: Indigenous Communities, Extractive Industries and the City in Zainab Amadahy’s Resistance (2013)”

Paula Wieczorek (University of Rzeszów)

“We Are Not Beasts: Deconstructing and Challenging Representations of Climate Displacement”

Tori Bush (Louisiana State University)

“Reading South Asian Ecofiction as Counternarratives to Climate Denialism”

Muhammad Manzur Alam (West Virginia University)



Q & A

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13 replies
  1. Anne Pasek says:

    Cheers, Muhammad, for your excellent presentation. I agree that the Global North/South divide is one that isn’t discussed enough in deliberations about climate fiction, and enjoyed your analysis of The Hungry Tide (I haven’t read it myself, but I just started Gun Island and see that there’s continuity between the two. Interesting!).

    My question is one that extends from your engagement with empirical ecocriticism early in your paper. I’m wondering if the people that we conventionally consider climate denialsts actually read novels with environmental themes, and if there are additional, nationalistic attachments that complicate transnational considerations of harm and action. As we hear from Matthew Schneider-Mayerson’s work ( Ghosh’s likely North American readers are probably already well-disposed towards climate science, but lack guiding scripts for how to put these beliefs into action. I guess another way of posing this question would be to ask: do ecofictions reach the right audiences, globally considered, and what kinds of denialism are they best equipped to address?

    • Muhammad Manzur Alam, West Virginia University says:

      Thank you, Anne.
      I am glad you mentioned Gun Island which, in many ways, is a sequel to The Hungry Tide; there are continuities of themes, settings, and even characters between them.
      As for your question, I found it quite fascinating, and it made me think more about the scope of my research. In my presentation, I make a rather broad claim that ecofictions present climate/environmental narratives as tragedies and, so, can potentially move readers by evoking empathy. In comparison, the general reports and news about disasters often seem pretty distant and abstract to us, resulting in our denialism about such emergencies. Therefore, the broad type of denialism that these ecofictions can address is the indifference towards climate emergencies—we even negotiate “manufactured” catastrophes as “natural” disasters. I, however, do not address how ecofictions could reach, or if they reach, the right audience, but I like your observations and references on that. I agree with your comment that the issues of diverse audiences can complicate my claim and I appreciate you pointing towards the type of audience Ghosh writes for. Certainly, many readers from South Asia who don’t read English fiction are some of the people most immersed in the issues Ghosh writes about. That’s a paradox!
      One pedagogical angle which I intend to add to my study is how we can teach such ecofictions as tragedies in undergraduate classes. Such classes are composed of students across disciplines, so it can enlarge the circle of audience (but will still be restricted to “English” audience).
      Finally, thank you for sharing Matthew Schneider-Mayerson’s work—a very helpful resource indeed!

      • Anne Pasek says:

        Thanks for your detailed reply! It sounds like you’re forwarding a more nuanced definition of denial than one that circulates in mainstream media. It has me wondering if you might productively define and claim this distinction in your paper.

        To quickly gloss on where I see those broad definitions today, denial is typically defined in relation to climate science ‘contrarians,’ though there is an emerging distinction between hard (anti-science) denial and soft denial (which tends to nominal ‘accept’ the science, but refuses to meaningfull reconcile the science with political action). (See Michael Hoexter’s work to this end-

        I see you are perhaps poised here to go an additional step forward and articulate a further subcategory of climate denialism that is, perhaps, hemispheric in its character?

        Just a thought! Thanks again for the great presentation.

        • Muhammad Manzur Alam, West Virginia University says:

          Great thoughts indeed, Anne! They will be quite helpful for defining the type of denialism I am referring to in my paper. The idea of denialism I forward here is hemispheric (thank you!) in character, but also one that is entrenched in the discriminatory operations of global capitalism in different hemispheres which shape people’s attitudes and responses to climate and emergencies.
          Thanks for the ideas and references, and the overall conversation, on climate denialism!

  2. Abilasha K says:

    Tori Bush’s presentation gives a clear picture of forced migration of indigenous population. Be it Native American or tribal Indian… the plight is same. Its very informative.

  3. Lydia Nixon, Angelo State University says:

    Paula – thank you for your presentation! I particularly appreciated your discussion of the potential for creating a different narrative about our environmental future through the blending of technology and indigenous practices. Very informative and thought-provoking. Also, I am unfamiliar with Gregory Cajete, but his book sounds insightful. I’m looking forward to reading it!

  4. Lawrence Coates says:

    I enjoyed hearing the presentations that invoked both Southern Louisiana and the Sundarbans, by Tori and Muhammed. I was reminded of something Ghosh wrote in “The Great Derangement” (though I just leafed through it and couldn’t find it). He wrote, and I’m paraphrasing, that the first impacts of the modern world’s technological progress will not be felt by those at the center, enjoying the benefits, but by those at the margins, suffering the consequences.

  5. Lucien Darjeun Meadows says:

    Paula, it is a pleasure to learn of Zainab Amadahy’s Resistance through your presentation. Before watching your presentation, I had not heard of this author or text — but what an important and timely work. I appreciate the connections you open with Amadahy’s depiction of the flu epidemics (feels relevant to all of us in our current global pandemic), and as some of my research engages mining and other extractive industries in Appalachia, I was fascinated by how you engage with these themes in Amadahy’s work. I’ve requested a copy of this book from my university and look forward to reading it!

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