Studies in Global Literature (Spring 2023)

Prof. Ashley Dawson (English / The Graduate Center)
Prof. Ángeles Donoso Macaya (Spanish / Borough of Manhattan Community College)

Spring 2023
Course Number: ENGLISH 86800

Topic: Decolonial Ecologies

As the climate emergency rages, Indigenous people, frontline communities, and Earth defenders are increasingly in the crosshairs of extreme extractivism. The stakes could not be higher, and a survey of the efforts of land and water defenders is critical to understanding and overcoming the present planetary crisis. What political tactics are most effective in resisting extreme extractivism, and how do various forms of culture help to exacerbate or challenge contemporary ecocide? What, in other words, are the lineaments of decolonial ecologies today?

In this course, we will survey contemporary literary, filmic, and visual texts that explore extractive practices and inscribe decolonial ecologies. How do such forms of re-presentation figure the popular uprisings against dispossession and ecological devastation taking place in both the Global South and among frontline communities in the Global North? In addition, the course will explore how various texts account for those forms of resistance that do not just include overt political opposition to extraction but also alternative ways of being and thinking in relation to the environment.

The course centers the alternative ontologies of non-European peoples and social movements challenging empire, racism, sexism, and classism. Materials for the class will straddle genres such as contemporary visual art, performance art, film, and literature oriented around climate justice. Examples of some of the works we may consider include The Otolith Group’s experimental film Infinity Minus Infinity (2019); the photographs of Nigerian photographer George Osodi; Amitav Ghosh’s transnational Cli-Fi novel Gun Island (2019); the performance Tierra Earth by Guatemalan performance artist Regina José Galindo, the film Mencer: Ñi Pewma (2011) by Mapuche filmmaker Francisco Huichaqueo Pérez; works by Colombian artist Carolina Caycedo, such as Water Portraits (2015-2016) and Genealogy of a Struggle (2017); and Estratos Strataby Chilean artist Alejandra Prieto.


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309