Elizabeth DeLoughrey: “States of Waste: Ecologies of (Night) Soil”

03/24/2014 -
4:30pm to 6:00pm
106 McCormick Hall
Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Professor of English, UCLA
The rise of postcolonial ecocriticism has resulted in an expanded discussion about how we theorize the relationship between people and place. This talk addresses the depiction of soil in rather literal and material terms by exploring how Caribbean artists and writers have called attention to the political and the aesthetic implications of making dirt, or waste, visible. Symbolically speaking, waste is a remainder, and can be understood as the uncanny, as deteriorating matter, as a figure of nature and natural time that exceeds our own temporal limits and suggests our own terminal assimilation into the earth. To render waste visible is to destabilize the hierarchies of social order and at the same time, according to Žižek, “recreate (an)...aesthetic dimension in…trash itself.” This will be explored in relationship to the literary representation of "wasted lives" as well as the (literary) circulation of dirt in the work of poet Kamau Brathwaite, Orlando Patterson, and Dominica! And installation artist, Tony Capellán, whose work examines Caribbean susceptibility to waste imperialism and the economies of disposability.