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Dr Stefano Bellin, Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship

Global Responsibility: Implicated Subjects and the Shame of the World

Many of the problems of today’s world are global in nature and scope, and thus need to be approached in a global fashion. Yet, as the reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, we struggle to think and act in truly global terms.

Currently based at UCL, Dr Stefano Bellin will join the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Warwick in October 2021 to undertake a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, in which he will explore how contemporary literature can help us to develop a framework to enhance our understanding of global responsibility.

‘Global’ stands here both for worldwide and comprehensive: it draws attention to our global relations of interdependency and to the complex networks of actions and inactions that create the conditions of possibility for oppression.

Focusing on literary case studies that illuminate three of the most consequential forms of global injustice (colonialism, border violence and ecological disaster), Dr Bellin will investigate how we can recognise ourselves in the position of the implicated subject via literature.

Dr Bellin will focus on literary case studies that illuminate global injustice. Image courtesy of


Bethlehem, West Bank.


Global responsibility and collective political action

The project's goal is twofold:

  • To develop a theory of ‘global responsibility' that captures the collective and cumulative ways in which people produce and propagate global injustice

  • To examine how certain affects can foster solidarity and catalyse collective political action.

The project is structured into three parts: historical, contemporary, and future-oriented. Arranging the literary case studies in this fashion clarifies how we might be responsible (in different ways and degrees) for the conditions of others in an ethico-political, transgenerational, and material sense.

From colonial history to contemporary global injustices

The first part focuses on the historical dimension and includes a case study of Italy’s neglected colonial history. Dr Bellin will analyse Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King (2019) and recently published texts by Black Italian writers to discuss how willed ignorance, disavowal, and denial constitute crucial figures of implication.

The second part concerns present-day injustices. He will concentrate on global border regimes, which, given their connection to privilege, inequality, war, and human rights, constitute one of the clearest examples of the contemporary global responsibility.

He will examine novels and short stories written by authors such as Adania Shibli, Moshin Hamid, and Valeria Luiselli to discuss how citizens of the Global North are implicated in the violence of borders and in the dramatic inequalities in wealth and opportunities that they generate and institutionalise

The project will also focus on climate change and environmental destruction and how these current harms extend into the future. Image courtesy of


How are our lifestyles and patterns of consumption compromising the life conditions of future generations? Image courtesy of

The slow violence of environmental degradation

Finally, the third part will turn to climate change and environmental destruction to consider global responsibility in relation to current harms that extend into the future.

Dr Bellin will read texts by authors such as Amitav Ghosh, Yoko Tawada, James Bradley and Joseph Zárate to explore the question of how many of us, through our lifestyles, behaviour and patterns of consumption, are implicated in the ‘slow violence’ of anthropogenic climate change and environmental degradation, and in the way in which they compromise the life conditions of future generations.

Thinking critically about the world and our actions

What is at stake in this interdisciplinary and multilingual project is how we think critically about the world and take responsibility for our compromised positions, creating the premises for meaningful interventions. Spotlighting how we are entwined with multiple others, Dr Bellin will offer a theoretical framework and substantive insights that contribute to debates surrounding cultural decolonisation, the global border regime, and climate change.

Find out more about Dr Bellin's research