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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

 
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Jennifer Wenzel - "Excavating the Anthropocene"
Oculus, OC1.01.

Jennifer is jointly appointed in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University, NYC. She has a new book coming out with Fordham very soon:The Disposition of Nature: Environmental Crisis and World Literature.

 

Her essays on postcolonial theory, environmental and energy humanities, memory studies, and African and South Asian literatures, have appeared in journals including Alif, Cultural Critique, Modern Fiction Studies, PMLA, Postcolonial Studies, Public Culture, Research in African Literatures, and Resilience. She has held fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, ACLS, NEH, and Princeton University's Davis Center for Historical Studies.

 

"Postcards from the Future"

This paper examines the genre of the postcard—a popular technology for the transmission of memory—in order to understand the spatiotemporal politics of Anthropocene imagining. I'm particularly interested in apocalyptic visions of environmental futurity that borrow images of contemporary Third World poverty and ecological degradation in order to posit them as the First World's future. While Europe's others were once seen as inhabiting a lesser past, now they're seen as inhabiting its projected future inferior. The consequences of carbon accumulation in the future are imagined to look a lot like being on the wrong end of capital accumulation in the present, with little acknowledgement of the shared but uneven history that joins them. These are among the thought grooves of the status quo that are so difficult to escape, at least from within the inertia of the fossil-fueled "chain of ease." Like so much else, the future will be unevenly distributed.