States of Waste: Ecologies of (Night) Soil

Igor Heifetz ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

Elizabeth DeLoughreyThe 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 Zizek, “recreate (an)…aesthetic dimension in…trash itself.” I explore this 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 Dominican installation artist, Tony Capellán, whose work examines Caribbean susceptibility to waste imperialism and the economies of disposability.

Elizabeth DeLoughrey is going to present her talk titled “States of Waste: Ecologies of (Night) Soil” on March 24th, 2014 at 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. in 106 McCormick Hall.