Resources of Resistance: Production, Consumption, Transformation
The Biennial Postcolonial Studies Association (PSA) Postgraduate Conference
24-25 July 2014, University of York
CFP deadline: 1 March 2014
Professor Jennifer Wenzel (University of Minnesota), Dr Sharae Deckard (University College Dublin) & Dr Anthony Carrigan (University of Leeds)
Prize to be awarded for best PG conference paper
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the mobilisation and (mis)management of resources have been critical features of capitalism’s latest regenerative efforts and narratives of ‘recovery’. Neoliberal regimes throughout the developed/developing world increasingly promote an intensification of capitalist mechanisms of extraction, exploitation and enclosure in order to transform resources once held in common into opportunities for profit-creation. Yet it is this deep-rooted entanglement with capitalism’s cycles of accumulation, expansion, and crisis, and its uneven distributions of power and wealth, that equally ensure resources remain highly-sensitive pressure points of contestation and resistance.
Following Wallerstein (1974; 2004), Braudel (1979; 1995), Arrighi (1994), and others, recent interventions within the field of postcolonial studies have begun to take up world-systems analysis in order to position the politics and resources of postcolonial resistance within a longer trajectory of capitalism’s cyclical patterns of growth and decline. This world-historical perspective enables an understanding of the role of resource acquisition and containment as integral features of imperial capital, and its methods of safeguarding power, but also as potential nodes of resistance to the structural hegemonies, inequities and instabilities of the capitalist world-system.
In his readings of capitalism as ‘world-ecology’ Jason Moore has repeatedly underscored the need to develop more integrated and systemic mechanisms for analysing capitalism’s systemic contradictions and consequences. Notably, he has drawn attention to the foundational role of the ‘Four Cheaps’ – land, labour, food, and energy – in relation to the unsustainable growth and inevitable crisis of the latest, specifically neoliberal, incarnation of the mode of production (Moore, 2012). Across postcolonial ecocriticism a raft of recent publications have similarly called attention to the international patterns of extraction, erosion and exhaustion that typify capitalism’s treatment of the planet and its inhabitants. Additionally, postcolonial and world-literary scholars, such as Elizabeth Deloughrey, Rob Nixon, Lawrence Buell, Anthony Carrigan, Sharae Deckard and others, have interrogated the deployment of a fast-slow dialectic of violence, identifying the protracted aftershocks of resource-based crises and the everyday experiences of disaster endured by the global poor that also, on occasion, form the basis for local resistance.
Developments in Cultural Geography, Science and Technology Studies (STS) and ecocriticism have further problematised the ways in which we identify a ‘natural resource’. As the categories of ‘nature’ and the ‘natural’ have become ever more unsettled (Morton 2007, Mortimer-Sandilands and Erickson 2010), resources have in turn become as hard to pin down epistemologically as they increasingly are to extract. The concepts of ‘scarcity’ and ‘abundance’ have come into question, as scholars including Alatout (2008) and Kaika (2006) have interrogated the ways in which resources are discursively constructed. Meanwhile, advocates of more-than-human philosophies have reasserted the potentially troubling capacity of ‘things’ to act in the world (Bennett 2010), indicating another way in which resources might not only be the trigger for human acts of political resistance, but could possess their own forms of resistant materiality.
‘Resources of Resistance: Production, Consumption, Transformation’ is an interdisciplinary postgraduate conference at the University of York on 24-25 July 2014. It seeks to address urgent questions surrounding the concept and roles of resources within the postcolonial world and capitalist world-system by drawing new, vital and provocative connections across a range of disciplines.
We welcome contributions from postgraduate researchers and early career scholars – as well as creative writers, artists and photographers – working in or across various disciplines and academic fields, including but not restricted to: Animal Studies, Anthropology, Biotechnology, Cultural Studies, Film and Television, Food Studies, Ecology/Environment Studies, Geography, History, History of Art, International Relations/Development, Literature, Politics, Science and Technology Studies, and Sociology.
Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words for 20 minute papers along with a short biography (200 words max.) to worldresources2014 [at] gmail [dot] com by 1 March 2014.
Topics for papers, panels, presentations and workshops may be based on, but are not limited to, the following themes:
- Sustainability and crisis: scarcity, depletion, exhaustion and rehabilitation; recycling and waste; food and hydropolitics; biofuels and biotechnologies; eco-disaster and resource-based conflict.
- Literary and cultural representations and responses: literatures of resistance; popular, indigenous and international activisms; trade union and labour movements; contestations of ownership, access and use; forms of collectivity, belonging, and identity politics; urban and rural spaces and livelihoods.
- Production, distribution and consumption in a globalised world: changing agricultural practices; local/global networks; ‘free trade’; financialisation and world markets; corporate and state capital; consumer activism and green politics.
- Theoretical approaches and methodological debates: postcolonial studies and ecocriticism; world-systems, world-ecology, world-literary analyses; critical animal and food studies; cultural geography; political economy; neo-Marxism; new materialism.
Organisers: Hannah Boast, Rebekah Cumpsty, Nicola Robinson and Lucy Potter
Our PhD projects share a concern for the representation of contested material and cultural resources in postcolonial and world literature. We study a range of resources, including water, space, land, labour and food, and we situate our research within debates over access, ownership, and local struggle. We are keen to engage with other scholars with whom we can make vital critical interventions into debates over literature, ecology, economy, and resistance.