“Decolonial Environmentalisms: Race, Genre, and Latinx Culture,” Latinx Studies Seed Grant



February 20, 2020
3:30 pm

EMU 119

Speaker: David J. Vázquez, UO Associate Professor and Head of Department of English

David J. Vázquez

The environmental humanities explore relationships between literature, culture, and the environment with the goal of creating an earth-centered scholarly vision. Although this body of scholarship centers environmental concerns, some forms of U.S. environmentalism put ideologies of American exceptionalism to work for the movement’s political goals of, as Rob Nixon puts it, “wilderness preservation, on wielding the Endangered Species Act against developers, and on saving old-growth forests.” Although the social justice turn of the environmental humanities has integrated Environmental Justice (or EJ, the study of the uneven distribution of environmental harms and benefits to people of color and the poor) approaches, some pockets of environmental thought continue to emphasize first-world, privileged perspectives over those of people of color, indigenous people, the economically disempowered, the colonized, and the formerly colonized.

“Decolonial Environmentalisms: Race, Genre and Latinx Culture,” intervenes in these trends by identifying parallel and countervailing environmental representations in contemporary Latinx literature and culture that intertwine decolonial and anti-racist forms of thought with environmental imaginaries. Building on the work of environmental humanities scholars who point to privileged perspectives in environmental thought, this project identifies Latinx literary and cultural texts that express neglected environmental perspectives, often through innovative aesthetic forms. These literary texts and cultural productions question stylized pastoral visions of agriculture and speak powerfully to EJ frameworks. The presentation will conclude with a close reading of Alex Rivera’s 2009 film Sleep Dealer as a case study for how decolonial environmentalisms operate in Latinx culture.

David J. Vázquez is Associate Professor and Head of English and a contributing faculty member in the Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies Department and the Program in Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon. He is the author of Triangulations: Narrative Strategies for Navigating Latino Identity (Minnesota 2011) and co-editor of Latinx Environmentalisms: Place, Justice, and the Decolonial (forthcoming Temple). His articles appear in such journals as Arizona QuarterlySymbolismContemporary Literature, CENTRO and Latino Studies. He has also contributed to the Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature and Erasing Public Memory: Race, Aesthetics, and Cultural Amnesia in the Americas.

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Sunday, October 20th, 2019 Funding, Research



Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies Gift Fund

Access the above link for giving to the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies Gift Fund. Online gifts may be made using the form available at this link; all gifts are processed by the University of Oregon Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization responsible for receiving and administering private donations to the University of Oregon.

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