Call for Papers: Special Issue of Critical Humanities on Resisting Extraction in the Age of Global Climate Change

Deadline Extended to June 10, 2024

Fall 2024 Issue of Critical Humanities examines narrative innovations and new scholarly approaches in representations of contemporary and/or day-to-day struggles against climate change and extraction. How do narratives from the Global South ― in literature, print, film and media ― understand the impacts of climate change and industrial extraction on minority communities? In what ways do representations of climate change highlight its intersections with colonial, neo-colonial and postcolonial forms of extraction? What are the new and innovative methods for us to theorize responses, struggles, and resistance efforts against the hostile conditions of extraction in the context of climate change?

According to the Indicators of Global Climate Change (IGCC) initiative, greenhouse gas emissions reached an all-time high of 54 gigatonnes per year (on average) in the decade from 2012 to 2021. In a similar trend, the pace of human-induced atmospheric warming reached an unprecedented rate of 0.2°C per decade, with temperatures rising by 1.14 °C between 2013 and 2022. Amidst a deepening climate crisis, the risks of livelihood disruption due to weather extremes are passed on to vulnerable communities of the Global South. Accountable leadership for the planet’s future seems scarce, with the recently concluded 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28 in Dubai) seeing the resurgence of powerful fossil-fuel interests that nearly thwarted an international climate pledge. The lack of urgency from major nations in mitigating atmospheric pollution is not surprising given the unequal distribution of its impacts. Climate change has devastated poor farming communities all over the Global South, from Asia and the Middle East to Africa and South America, exposing women and children to the risks of food insecurity and human trafficking. Unpredictable weather patterns and the destruction of traditional livelihoods (such as fishing or foraging) have forced vulnerable people to become migrant laborers and refugees, sometimes within nations themselves. Climate change is thus exacerbating the already existing inequalities of race, class and gender while also creating new faultlines of exploitation via extraction.

In the Global South, poor and rural communities struggle to adapt to changing climate and weather patterns, while also bearing the brunt of large-scale extractive developments (pipelines, refineries, dams, mines, and plantations). New oil and mining projects in the last two decades have targeted forested indigenous lands that are crucial to mitigating the impacts of climate change, as underlined by the struggles to protect the Amazon rainforest (in various parts of Brazil) and the Hasdeo Arand forest (in central India). In the same timeframe, environmental activists and indigenous movements in key nations (including Brazil, India, and the Philippines) have had to confront the senselessly cruel policies of populist leaders such as Bolsonaro, Modi, and Duterte. Such populist leaders have favored the growth of extractive industries while spurring violent crackdowns on journalists, intellectuals, and climate resistance movements.

Scholarly approaches to colonial history highlight the human causality of global climate change and also acknowledge the lack of a unified human response, suggesting that “there is no corresponding humanity that in its oneness can act as a political agent” (Chakrabarty 2012, 14). In order to respond to climate change effectively, first we must address its causation by centuries of colonial oppression, which created economic surpluses in the West by destroying sustainable alternatives. Besides the key role of fossil-fuel burning in Europe’s rapid industrial growth, “climate change has been brought about through the colonial and racialized dispossessions that severed peoples’ access to land and resources to sustain their livelihoods and set them to work in the plantations and factories that went on to drive extraction through industrial development” (Bhambra and Newell 2022, 4). Recent scholarship has suggested that environmental pollution should be viewed not just as a product of economic growth, but as a form of colonial oppression itself, especially given “the necessary place of stolen land in colonizers’ and settlers’ ability to create sinks for pollution” (Liboiron 2021, 15). Beyond the palpable manifestations of the climate crisis in the present day, we understand that “global climate change reinforces disparate economic, social, and racial conditions that developed, fostered, and thrived throughout the long history of colonization (Hartnett 2021, 139). Hence, we anticipate that studies of literary and media narratives pertaining to climate change and/or extraction also engage rigorously with discourses of identity connected to gender, sexuality, religion, race, culture, ethnicity, and/or indigeneity. Resistance movements against climate change and extraction not only mobilize identity claims, but they also reshape the discursive terrains on which identities are formed and understood. For instance, in taking stock of the notion of indigeneity vis-a-vis extractive industries in colonial, neo-colonial, and corporate settings, we must ask “what cultural and social work Indigeneity [does] for specific peoples, and how are they reshaping the term [Indigenous] in the context of their own political realities”? (Eubanks and Yangjee Sherpa 2018, viii-ix).

In this Call for Papers, we seek to understand the fight against climate change in its manifold complexities, within which pressure campaigns against intergovernmental regulatory bodies are continuous with local struggles against extractive projects. We invite manuscript submissions from scholars who utilize decolonial, anti-colonial, and materialist approaches in their analyses. Studies of literary and media narratives ― from South Asia, Southeast Asia, West Africa, Middle East, and other parts of the world: ― are welcome. Submissions that engage thoughtfully with the discourse of indigenous identity or the notion of indigeneity in a Global South context are especially encouraged. Further, we are looking for essays that examine literary forms of resistance to climate change and extraction.

Essays should be 6,000-9000 words, including all quotations and works cited, and should follow Chicago Manual Style (Notes and Bibliography). Please submit your manuscript via the online submission form on the Critical Humanities website by June 10, 2024. Queries should be directed to Alok Amatya (abamatya@ncsu.edu) and Rashmi Varma (rashmi.varma@warwick.ac.uk).

Works Cited:

Bhambra, Gurminder and Peter Newell. “More than a Metaphor: ‘Climate Colonialism’ in Perspective.” Global Social Challenges Journal XX (2022): 1-9.

Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “Postcolonial Studies and the Challenge of Climate Change.” New Literary History 43, no. 1 (2012): 1-18

Eubanks, Charlotte and Pasang Yangjee Sherpa. “We Are (Are We?) All Indigenous Here, and Other Claims about Space, Place, and Belonging in Asia.” Verge: Studies in Global Asias 4, no. 2 (2018), vi-xiv.

Harnett, Rachel. “Climate Imperialism: Ecocriticism, Postcolonialism, and Global Climate Change.” eTropic: electronic journal of studies in the Tropics 20, no. 2 (2021), 138-155.

Liboiron, Max. Pollution is Colonialism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2021.