Summary: Postcolonial literature; ecocriticism and environmental humanities; disaster studies; tourism and travel writing; island studies; globalisation, development, and economics.
BA (Cambridge); MA (London); PhD (Leeds)
I joined the School of English in September 2013 after four years as a Lecturer at Keele University, and my research focuses on the relationship between postcolonialism, environmental studies, and economics. I enjoy working comparatively across a wide range of postcolonial literatures and cultures, and am very interested in cross-disciplinary approaches to field.
Much of my research builds on the exciting work taking place at the intersection of postcolonial studies, ecocriticism, and the environmental humanities. This is a key concern in my book, Postcolonial Tourism: Literature, Culture, and Environment (Routledge, 2011), which examines writings from the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Sri Lanka, and shows how imaginative texts provide strategies for negotiating exploitative travel practices.
My current research project, Representing Postcolonial Disaster: Conflict, Consumption, Reconstruction, addresses the social and environmental dimensions of a number of post-WWII catastrophes, and explores how postcolonial aesthetics can contribute to revising mainstream disaster studies concepts such as vulnerability, resilience, and recovery. This has been supported by a Fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich (Jan–June 2012), and by an AHRC Early Career Fellowship (Oct 2013–Sept 2015), which will help me complete a book and several other outputs on this subject. The AHRC Fellowship will also facilitate a number of research development and public engagement activities - including the Reframing Disaster event in Nov–Dec 2014 - which I hope will encourage sustained reflection on the production and mediation of global catastrophes.
I'm always excited by the insights that come from collaborative research, and have just finished leading a two-year AHRC-NWO Research Network (2012-2014), alongside colleagues at Leiden and Amsterdam, focusing on colonial and postcolonial disasters in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia (1800–present). The network involved significant interdisciplinary and inter-empire comparison, and explored how the representation of disastrous experiences impacts on past, present, and future understandings of community cohesion and sustainability in island contexts. One of the major outputs of the network is a forthcoming special issue of the journal Moving Worlds, entitled Catastrophe and Environment (2014). For more details and resources please visit the project website or feel free to get in touch.
I am currently organising an international conference and public engagement event, Reframing Disaster, in collaboration with Dr Shamira Meghani, which will take place in November–December 2014 and will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the South Asian Tsunami, the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, and the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Disaster. The event has been planned in collaboration with the Bhopal Medial Appeal and local schools and community groups, and will be inclusive and public-facing, with film screenings, school workshops, and exhibitions being staged throughout the week. It will include an exhibition of Bhopal photography by world-renowned Indian photographer Raghu Rai at the Tetley Gallery in Leeds (Reframing Disaster Exhibition), along with contributions from writers, artists, filmmakers, publishers, and charity representatives who have worked to publicise and support recovery efforts in relation to these disasters. Please see here for more on conference details.
In 2012–2013, I organised two significant international events in collaboration with Elizabeth DeLoughrey (UCLA) and Jill Didur (Concordia), designed to initiate discussions about the relationship between postcolonialism and the environmental humanities: Imperialism, Narrative, and the Environment (11–13 October 2012, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich), and Global Ecologies: Nature/Narrative/Neoliberalism (8–9 March 2013, UCLA). These have led to the forthcoming co-edited volume, Global Ecologies and the Environmental Humanities: Postcolonial Approaches (Routledge, 2015).
I learn lots from sharing ideas at national and international conferences and research events, and some recent invited talks and keynote lectures I've given include:
‘Compound Disaster, Uneven Recovery: Reading the Catastrophic Legacies of 1970–71 in Bangladesh’, Resources of Resistance: Production, Consumption, Transformation, University of York, 24–25 July 2014. Keynote.
‘Risk-Taking and Disaster’, The Art of Risk, Leeds Grand Theatre (University of Leeds/Opera North), 26 June 2014. Invited Talk.
‘Towards a Postcolonial Disaster Studies’, Postcolonial Environments, University of Manchester, 24 January 2014. Invited Talk.
‘The Cultural Politics of Prevention: Postcolonial Disaster and the Environmental Humanities’, Just Politics? Postcolonial Ecocriticism between Imagination and Occupation, 11th ASNEL Postgraduate Summer School, Universität Potsdam, 2–6 September 2013. Keynote.
‘Ecocriticism, Economic Globalization, and Disaster’, Ecocriticism and Globalization, Goethe Universität Frankfurt, 21–22 June 2013. Keynote.
‘The Dialectic of Ordinary Disaster in the Caribbean’, Islands Unchained: Commodity Frontiers, Food Regimes, and Archipelic Aesthetics, University of Warwick, 3 May 2013. Invited Talk.