Apocalypse and settler/colonial climate change

I’ve been thinking for a long time about the relationship between apocalyptic storytelling and the real apocalyptic experiences of life under settler colonial capitalism (and written some here, here, and here – with the most recent/polished version forthcoming with Resilience: a Journal of the Environmental Humanities, informed by the work of Kyle Whyte, Kristen Simmons, Bruno Seraphin, and so many others).*

Most recently, I reviewed Gerald Horne’s vital The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism for the journal TransmotionThe initial review appears here, but has since been picked up by Monthly Review, Portsideand Black Agenda Report.

These repostings of my review suggest, I think, the exigency of understanding current questions/framings of apocalypse and climate change within a historical political context. It is as this Anthropocene Haiku has it: “The climate changing / is colonialism / fulfilling its goals. To which I add, extending Horne’s historical argument, apocalyptic climate change is colonialism fulfilling its goals AND its means.

Apocalyptic climate change is colonialism’s end goal – to usher in the apocalypse, the ends of worlds – but it is also the means, meaning apocalypse is also the historical and ongoing realities of life under settler capitalism which are always experiences of climate change, suffocation, a set of apocalyptic realities that stories of apocalypse too often work to whitewash.

Descriptions of climate change communicated though the tropes of apocalypse describe both the means and the end-logic of colonial capitalism. STILL, there are ways to think apocalyptically that do not bind us to the solitary and asphyxiating atmospherics of settler time-space. Try here, here, here,

*Here, I conflate colonialism and settler colonialism, as I see Patrick Wolfe’s formative definition of settler colonialism as a structure not an event that takes as its end goal the elimination of the native in terms of its colonial origins as well as both systems’ mutual dependence upon what Jodi Byrd calls the “transit” of indian-ness – a metaphorics vital to the apocalypses of colonialism-cum-settler-colonialism. In other words, colonialism and settler colonialism converge in the transit of “indian,” the elimination of Indigenous worlds as a means and ends, conditions of possibility and teleology.

Teaching for Justice in a Changing Climate

My teaching and research are dedicated to what I call ‘Critical Environmental Justice Pedagogies’ – best practices for cultivating diversity and inclusion and teaching climate change (coined in concert with Robert Brulle and David Pellow’s concept, and Pellow’s 2017 book). These teaching strategies ask us to engage across forms of difference and critically consider the complex – and changing – meanings of being human. Email me for more information and a list of resources.

My pedagogy is also informed by my:

  • Master’s degree in Education, and two Master’s degrees in English
  • Fifteen years of teaching experience, including instruction of secondary, undergraduate, graduate, and nontraditional students, as well as other teachers.
  • Training in implicit bias recognition, teaching race and ethnicity, and the interdisciplinary pedagogy of Writing Across the Curriculum, Writing Across the Disciplines, and the National Writing Project, as well as the methods of genealogy, American, Indigenous, and culture studies.
  • Awards from the Fulbright Program, Eastern Oregon University, Portland State University, and the University of Oregon’s highest recognition – Outstanding Teacher of Composition – for my course on environmental writing. I was also nominated for the University of Oregon’s Diversity and Equity award.

Useful Teaching Resources:

Inspiring examples of art-ivism on climate change:

Some favorite syllabi:

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Growing the Environmental Humanities

I had the honor of being invited to give an overview of the environmental humanities to Cornell University’s inaugural graduate course on the field, taught by the incomparable Anindita Banerjee. I wanted to make sure students had a broad understanding of how to get involved, and stay involved, so I compiled this brief overview of selected initiatives, institutions, journals, publications, and upcoming events (email me if you want a copy of this and/or have ideas to add!):

Also, as an important example of how the environmental humanities can be effective means of protest, Terry Tempest Williams, professor of environmental humanities at University of Utah, along with students from that phd program, successfully bought rights to 1,750 acres of land in order to save it from fossil fuel extraction. Listen to her interview with Democracy Now here.

The Center for Environmental Futures

The Center for Environmental Futures–Environmental Humanities, Justice, and Culture at the University of Oregon has won a 600K award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help foster work across the campus, building on UO’s reputation as a preeminent institution to do environmental issues. Click here for up-to-date CEF events.

I am proud to have been involved with the efforts to establish CEF, under the leadership of Stephanie LeMenager, the Barbara and Carlisle Moore Professor of English and Environmental Studies, and Marsha Weisiger, the Julie and Rocky Dixon Chair of U.S. Western History (and many other incredible scholars across campus!).

Find out more in the newsletter! A remarkable presentation from Carla Bengston, the head of the Art department at UO, centered on nonhuman actors intervening in the nature/culture divide. My current favorite is S.C.O.L.D.: Species Calling Out Climate Change Deniers – a project that trains crows to recognize and scold climate change deniers, and communicate to other crows to do the same!

 

 

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Forum for Sustainability and Housing Justice

With the support of University of Oregon’s Philosophy department and a generous grant awarded by the UO Sustainability Center, the University of Oregon held its first Forum on Sustainability and Housing Justice. This event explored the intersections of housing justice and sustainability and was a truly interdisciplinary and community event. Planned by myself and two other PhD candidates – one in Philosophy and one in Theatre Arts – this forum consisted of a fair and a speaking panel. The fair portion hosted groups from the university, organizations from the local and state community and represented a variety of sustainability initiatives such as habitat restoration, transportation justice, and exciting projects like Opportunity Village. The panel brought together five speakers: Erin Moore, a professor in the school of Architecture and Allied Arts; Paul Catino, the Learnscape and Restoration Coordinator at Nearby Nature; Michael Withley from Portland-Based Micro Community Concepts; Andrew Heben of the tiny house building nonprofit organization SquareOne Villages; and Donita Sue Fry, the Youth and Elders Council Coordinator for the Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland. The entire event was aimed at bringing community organizations, activists, volunteers, and scholars together to talk about how to build a more just and sustainable home. The event featured a Conestoga Hut, built on-site and open for the public to learn more about the simple and transformative solutions for the unhoused.