24 Jan 2020 - 25 Jan 2020 All day SG1/2, CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT


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Lead Convenors

Ananya Mishra (University of Cambridge)

Siddharth Soni (University of Cambridge)

The full list of convenors is available at www.climatefictions.info/convenors.



Critical Indigenous studies can neither be perceived as niche, nor trivialized as topical. In the way climate-capitalism has become an existential threat, a sincere engagement with Indigenous knowledges has become ineluctable. This conference seeks to initiate a multidisciplinary conversation on climate change, as conceived by, and re-inscribed within, Indigenous literatures. So far within the small domain of English Humanities, contemporary climate fiction by Indigenous authors have presented an urgent need to converse with scientific and social-scientific approaches to climate change. Centring these literatures, especially at a university such as Cambridge that is itself implicated in climate capitalism, is vital to confront the racial nature of climate change discourse which overlooks those who are leading the resistance in theory and praxis. These literatures tie the material to the literary, forging new links between resurgence movements and academic scholarship. These literatures also provide a narrative space for the local exigencies of land to feature within a global discourse on climate.

Climate fictions by writers like Alexis Wright, Linda Hogan and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, among others, have shone critical light upon the effects of slow violence of climate change and the global political nexus of extractive governments and industries on the ecology and human lives. Within Indigenous climate fictions, much as within academic, journalistic and new hybrid forms of writing, long-entrenched binary between the ‘human’ and ‘nature’ is itself reshuffled, just as existing anthropocentric anxieties of climate change are destabilized by the re-interrogation of the place of the human within the ecological.

At the same time, the change in climate is not in postponement, making it predictive, but in continuum with human history’s interaction with nature, tying settler-colonialism and resource-capitalism to catastrophes like flash floods, melting glaciers, and rising temperatures. Indigenous populations around the world are affected through forced dispossessions, that, in turn, have had a profound impact on their politics, cultures, languages, and literatures. The complicity of governments and academic institutions in abetting the ramifications of capitalism induced climate change has brought together an allied community of writers, scholars, activists, artists and filmmakers to form a network of strength and solidarity across nations. Several movements and landmarks like Idle No More, Dakota Access Pipeline Protest, Niyamgiri, and Uluru Statement from the Heart, builds upon a strong culture of protest within and outside the realm of Indigenous fictions.

Accommodation will be provided to all speakers at the conference. Dependent on the outcome of additional applications for funding for the event, travel bursaries may be available for participants selected through the Call for Papers. Preference will be given in the first instance to Indigenous delegates travelling from abroad. If you would like to be considered for travel support, please give details of your likely costs and any institutional support that may be available to you when submitting your proposal. 




Supported by: 

Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH)

Faculty of English

Smuts Memorial Fund

St Edmunds College


Administrative assistance: events@crassh.cam.ac.uk


Day 1, Friday 24 January 2020




Introduction to the Conference 

Dr Shamira Meghani, University of Cambridge


Panel 1: Futurescapes

Chair: Louis Klee, University of Cambridge

Christina Stanciu, Virginia Commonwealth University
Future, Flight, and Fear: Dispossession and “Education” in Claire Coleman’s Terra Nullius and Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves

Chiara Xausa, University of Bologna
Intersectional Climate Justice in Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves: An Alternative to Apocalyptic Discourse on Western Cli-Fi

Lenka Filipova, Freie Universität Berlin
Displacement and the Performative in Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance


Tea / Coffee


Chair: Reetika Subramaniam

Performance: Sara Kazmi, University of Cambridge

O many-colored water, we too ask for a splash, a sprinkle:’ River Mythologies and Indigenous Feminisms in Punjab




Panel 2: Histories of Extraction

Chair: Siddharth Soni, University of Cambridge

Megan Kuster, University College Dublin
‘I’m taking you with me’: Indigenous self-determination and knowledge production in natural history knowledge formation and contemporary climate action

Maria Houar, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Leviathan: Reimagining Andersen's 'The Little Mermaid' as a Tale of Transspecies Liberation through a Queer Ecoerotics of Sovereignty

Rhy Brignell, University of East Anglia
Oil Culture and the Osage “Reign of Terror”




Roundtable A: From Grassroots to Text

Chair: Mezna Qato, University of Cambridge

Evelyn Araluen Corr, University of Sydney

Michael Griffiths, University of Wollongong


Keynote Address: Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Introduction by Ananya Mishra

Day 2, Saturday 25 January 2020




Panel 3: Anthropocene

Chair:  Robert Newton, University of Cambridge

Giuilia Champion, University of Warwick
“O Multinaturalismo Amazônico”: Decolonising Anthropology and Making Kin in Brazilian Indigenous Literature

Nicole Furtado, University of California Riverside
Envisioning “Ea” and the Reconnecting of Land-Based Pedagogies in Native Hawaiian Speculative Art

Bonaventure Muzirgirwa Munganga, UNSW Sydney (via Skype)
Every (un)thinkable world is (un)thinkable: ecological thinking, the aesthetics and poetics of the uncanny and epistemic issues in Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book




Panel 4: Indigenous Vocabularies and Climate Consciousness

Chair: Dr Regina Hansda

Anna Erzsebet Szucs, National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan
Environmental and Social Activism in Pacific Island Literature: “Everyday Objects with Mission” in Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner’s Poetry

Mylène Gamache, University of Manitoba
A reading of ‘binesiwag’ and Anishinaabeg Storytelling

Chinonye Ekwueme-Ugwu, University of Nigeria (via Skype)
“Inventing Climate Consciousness in Igbo Oral Repertoire”




Roundtable B: Towards a Transnational Indigenous Imaginary

Chair: Olivia Slater, University of Cambridge

Jonathan Dunk, University of Sydney

David Stirrup, Kent University

Jeanine Leanne, University of Melbourne




Panel 4: Representing Climate Breakdown

Chair: Olivia Slater

April Anson, University of Pennsylvania (via Skype)
CliFi’s Apocalypses: Atmospheric Failure and Indigenous Survivance in the Anthropocene

Rebecca Tilett, University of East Anglia
The Necessity of Lived Resistance: Reading Leslie Marmon Silko’s Gardens in the Dunes as Climate Fiction

Jessica White, University of Queensland
‘The Water is Rising Around Us’: Representing Climate Change in Ellen van Neerven’s Water


Concluding Remarks

Upcoming Events


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk