Race, Environment, and Representation (special issue of Discourse)
“Race, Environment, and Representation”
Special issue of: Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture
This special issue of Discourse will present interdisciplinary scholarship that examines the intersection of the environment, race, and representational practices. It aims to redress the lack of conversation between critical race studies, ecocriticism, and media studies. This important conversation can be more fully opened by exploring some of the following questions: How are environment and race both, in the terms of Lawrence Buell, mutually constructed, shaped by the material world and the world of discourse? How does the concept of “environment” inform the work of ethnic authors who are often concerned with urban, industrial, and agricultural landscapes overlooked or shunned by conservation-oriented environmentalists? How have artists and critics responded to the emergence of a more socially oriented discourse and practice of environmental justice? What aesthetic forms and strategies can represent the burdens of pollution, health, and structural violence that are inflicted upon different groups, often with effects that seem invisible, temporally remote, or geographically removed?
We invite essays from a broad a range of scholars and methodologies on topics such as ethnic studies, cultural geography, visual culture, urban history, philosophy, literary criticism, American studies, environmental history, and anthropology. In bringing together diverse approaches to the problems posed by race, environmental justice, and cultural mediation, the issue will explore how attending to the uneven distribution of environmental burdens might enable political coalitions and aesthetic practices that move beyond, without leaving behind, local struggles and the politics of identity that have characterized many aspects of both environmentalism and antiracist discourses.
We understand the key terms of our title – race, environment, and representation – broadly. With respect to race we are interested in extending the critical conversation about the environment to more fully address how historically sedimented racial groups—including whites—intersect with issues of location (i.e., in environmentally impacted, disinvested urban areas or in overseas regions affected by toxic dumping) and access (i.e., to health care, education, and pesticide-free products). By environment we mean not only places commonly represented as “natural” and “wild” – thus the usual targets of environmentalism – but also cities, suburbs, and working landscapes. While we are convinced by poststructuralist arguments that understandings of nature are always matters of representation and not merely scientific fact, we are especially interested in how particular representational practices mediate experiences of nature and the environment.
Possible topics might include, but should by no means by limited to:
--visual representations of intangible, invisible environmental “body burdens”
--the racial politics of urban/suburban design
--how media have been mobilized to create translocal imagined communities among differently situated grassroots activists (and even across species lines)
--intersections between environmental justice and emerging scholarship on biopower, or, in Nikolas Rose’s phrase, “the politics of life itself”
--social aspects of environmental art or earthworks
--intersections of religion, environmentalism, and race
--Review essays on books such as The Environmental Justice Reader (ed. Adamson, Evans, and Stein); Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference (ed. Moore, Pandian, and Kosek); The Quest for Environmental Justice (Bullard); Noxious New York (Sze); and The Future of Environmental Criticism (Buell).
Articles should be a maximum of 7,500 words in length, and formatted in Chicago style. Interested contributors please send an abstract (max. of 500 words) by 15 April 2008. The deadline for receipt of articles will be 15 July 2008. We welcome any questions. Please email all materials and queries to Discourse Guest Editors, Mark Feldman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Hsuan L. Hsu (email@example.com).
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