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The Ecological Literacy of a Migrant Ecocriticism

dissertation-in-progress

My dissertation, “The Ecological Literacy of a Migrant Ecocriticism” intersects the fields of education, the environmental humanities, cultural studies, and literature in analyzing what invisible and unvoiced conditions are present in the four (4) selected anthologies of Canada and the Philippines as innovated by ecopoetry. Through juxtaposing selected ecopoetry in response to pressing quandaries, my primary aim is to methodologically deterritorialize ecocriticism by opening up a space of proximity where marginalized writers are in conversation with canonical writers; rather than a centripetal arrangement of these ecopoetry to pursue their juxtapositions, I am to organize ecopoetry centrifugally to create a space where they navigate toward each other, and not into one another in order to facilitate a productive space for conversations between and among these kinds of frameworks. It is a risky method that threatens many surprises as I put the ecopoems (with their presupposed canonical organization and marginalized allegorical conditions) in conversations with one another and with myself as part of a complex relationship; however, what this kind of organization offers is the possibility of a Migrant Ecocriticism that reconceptualizes a migrant reading practice, where literature becomes a space of encounter with alterity. 

 

A Migrant Ecocriticism then is the possibility of an ecocriticism that considers the following: first, a subject position of a migrant; second, the figure of migrancy as it moves socially and/or biologically (e.g. the arrivals and departures of species), and third, a reading practice that is intrigued by juxtapositions in Canadian and Philippine ecopoetry. Perhaps the primary notion in conceptualizing a migrant reading practice is to argue that everyone is a migrant -- and that migrancy is born not only out of movements, temporality, and generationality, but out of the spaces that one becomes intimate with as these movements are realized and reflected upon.

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Empire and Environment: Confronting Ecological Ruin in Asia-Pacific and the Americas

editor, with Heidi Hong, Jeffrey Santa Ana, and Xiaojing Zhou (forthcoming with the University of Michigan Press, 2020)

The essays collected in Empire and Environment concern Asian, Pacific Islander, and North American cultural works in response to the impact of colonialism and imperialism on ecological collapse and the production of environmental knowledge. The collection offers a diverse array of writings and images that engage with the violent accrual of what Ann Laura Stoler has termed “imperial debris,”[i] which evidences “the wasted matter left over by the project of development” on a planetary scale.[ii] Empire and Environment illuminates and emphasizes histories of imperialism, colonialism, militarism, and global capitalism to show how these histories are integral to understanding representations of environmental violence that are revealed as imperial debris in the Asia-Pacific region. The book shows how Asian American and Pacific Islander cultural works communicate the devastating environmental costs and consequences of imperialism, colonialism, and capitalist development (and their maintenance and perpetuation through militarism) in the Asia-Pacific and the Americas. 

 

[i] Ann Laura Stoler, Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013).

[ii] Vyjayanthi Rao, “The Future in Ruins,” in Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination, edited by Ann Laura Stoler (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013): 313.

Stop Close Reading Now

co-author, with Greg Garrard (forthcoming in Close Reading in the Anthropocene, ed. Helena Feder, with Routledge Press, 2020)

The concept of motivated form has been crucial in the classroom activity of close reading: students are encouraged not only to identify formal elements, but to see them as related directly to aspects of a poem’s context. At its crudest, the argument heard from students is that Wilfred Owen’s alliteration is motivated by traumatic memory of the sound of machine guns. Yet IA Richards, a pioneer of ‘practical criticism’, poured scorn on the notion that formal features such as rhythmic patterns could have meaning independent of the specific content of the poem. How has the notion of motivated form played out in ecocritical theory? And what would be left if we were to dispense with it?

 

The paper begins with a prehistory of arguments about motivated form: IA Richard’s “metrical dummy”; Marxists debates about the novel; and Nancy Easterlin’s biocultural interpretation rejection of motivated form. Ecopoetics then will be discussed in relation to motivated form, from Angus Fletcher’s argument of the ‘environment poem’ as formally radical irrespective of its content to John Felstiner’s revision of Russian Formalist estrangement theory inCan Poetry Save the Earth? Lastly, the paper will address the eco-pedagogical value of close reading by developing an analysis of Canadian poet Robyn Sarah’s ‘Nature Walk’ that foregrounds singularity over generalizable formal analysis.

ASLE-ASEAN organized the fantastic Tree

a steering to homes, or the ecopoetry of a migrant Filipinx

author, forthcoming with the annual ASLE-ASEAN journal publication, 2020

As of 2016, there are a recorded three million “documented” Filipinx migrants to countries all over the world. These growing numbers, increasing every year, have reflected the constantly changing landscape of the Filipinx identity - one that arguably has not yet been mapped with certainty due to years of oppression, colonisation, and, now, globalisation. These migrant Filipinx are often subjected to hardships and stereotypes that are perpetrated not only by their host countries, but also their fellow countrymen as well, which renders a major part of their experiences as a migrant “invisible.” Thus, this paper challenges the preconceived notions of a migrant Filipinx via the “homes” they have remapped on new landscapes within and beyond the country. I argue that Filipinx migrants are creating new “routes and roots” that are both fostering a new Filipinx identity and steering back to the Filipinx identity as they navigate their ways onto new landscapes.

 

Using Elizabeth DeLoughrey’s critique of “tidalectics,” which foregrounds “a dynamic method of geography that can elucidate island history and cultural production to provide frameworks that explore the complex and shifting entanglement between sea and land, diaspora and indigeneity, and routes and roots,” I aim to analyse an ecopoem each from Merlinda Bobis and Charlie Samuya Veric that both complicate the geographies of a Filipinx migrant. My hope is that in doing so, the multiplicities of landscapes that the Filipinx migrant experiences are amalgamated in a new environmental culture that is seen as an integral part of being a Filipinx - one that is not anymore solely centred on the homeland but recognises the possibilities of a new and innovative perspective to energise the current local and global environmental discourse.