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The Anthropocene, Slow Violence and Environmental Time, Rob Nixon

Rob Nixon is Rachel Carson Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

My talk engages two of the great crises of our moment: the Great Acceleration of the Anthropocene and the Great Divergence of increasing global inequality, two crises that are seldom articulated together. I identify the critical but concealed connections between these crises by engaging two scales of environmental time: the Great Acceleration of the Anthropocene and what I call slow violence. The Anthropocene marks a new epoch, defined by the fact that for the first time in history the impact of human actions are legible in every biophysical system on the planet. In short, the human species has altered the fundamental biophysical nature of the earth, not just the carbon cycle, but the warming and rising of the oceans, and ultimately the fundamental atmospheric climate of the globe itself.

Second, I elaborate what I call slow violence: the slow-motion environmental disasters that occur gradually and imperceptibly over time. My talk thereby complicates conventional notions of violence as bounded by instantaneous and spectacular moments of time and targeted at individual bodies.

In so doing, I address a third crisis: the urgent imaginative challenge currently facing both the humanities and the sciences, namely how writers and visual artists can embody environmental disasters in literary narratives and images, thereby making imaginatively perceptible and tangible to a broader public what scientists are establishing. In this way, my talk opens up possibilities for a more enabling collaboration between the humanities and the sciences.
This event is cosponsored with the Department of English.

Location: Marx Hall 101

Date/Time: 04/03/14 at 4:30 pm - 04/03/14 at 6:00 pm

Professor Rob Nixon—Narrative Biography

Rob Nixon is the Rachel Carson and Elizabeth Ritzmann Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of four books, most recently Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Harvard UP), which was selected by Choice as an outstanding book of 2011. Slow Violence has received four prizes: an American Book Award; the 2012 Sprout prize from the International Studies Association for the best book in environmental studies; the 2012 Interdisciplinary Humanities Award for the best book to straddle disciplines in the humanities; and the 2013 biennial ASLE Award for the best book in environmental literary studies.

Rob Nixon is a frequent contributor to the New York Times. His writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The Guardian, The Nation, London Review of Books, The Village Voice, Slate, Huffington Post, Times Literary Supplement, Chronicle of Higher Education, PMLA, Critical Inquiry, South Atlantic Quarterly, Public Culture, Cultural Studies, New Formations and elsewhere.

He has published over a hundred essays and book chapters in the fields of environmental studies, postcolonial studies and nonfiction and has delivered lectures on six continents.

Nixon has been a recipient of a Guggenheim, an NEH, a Fulbright, and a MacArthur Foundation International Peace and Security Fellowship.

Category: Sponsored & Affiliated Events

Department: Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI)