Decolonizing Nature: Race, Indigeneity, and Poetics

The Decolonizing Nature IHUM Reading Group endeavors to weave threads between three fields that have too often been studied in isolation from each other: Black studies, Indigenous studies, and environmental studies. We do this through rooting ourselves in 1) poetics and 2) the ongoing histories of slavery, colonialism, and imperialism.


We imagine an indigeneity that moves across the lines of race and nation, articulating questions such as: How have shared histories of violence and subjugation informed Native and African American ecoliterary traditions? How might our understanding of nature be more fully illuminated by studying the literature of the indigenous peoples of Africa alongside the literature of the indigenous peoples of the Americas? Through what means do concepts such as indigeneity and poetics help us identify points of convergence and divergence within African, African American, and Native American ecoliteratures—and what might we make of these points?


Exploring the history, theory, and practice of Black and Indigenous poetics, we work to excavate the relationship between language, form, and nature, and how this relationship can inform our understanding of violence—ecological and otherwise. In our study, we disregard any notion of a divide between theory and literature—reading poetry and fiction as theory, and also treating critical texts as poetic works.


Fall meeting schedule (location forthcoming):


Wednesday, September 27th

Selections from Sylvia Wynter, Lucille Clifton, and Irma Pineda


Wednesday, October 25th

To be decided collaboratively


Wednesday, November 29th

To be decided collaboratively