Keynote Address

Credit: Sameer A. Khan

"Environmental Martyrdom and the Defenders of the Forest"

Friday, April 13, 7 PM
Omni William Penn
Grand Ballroom (17th floor)

Reception to follow

Martyrdom is direct action in extremis. Martyrs put their bodies on the line, risking, for the sake of principle, not just a weekend in jail, but burial in the dead of night in a shallow grave. Some environmental martyrs remain anonymous, their vanishing unnoticed beyond their villages. But others gather posthumous fame and purpose, achieving in their earthly afterlife a rallying power and an enduring force. This talk will address the current surge in environmental martyrdom across the global South against the backdrop of the neoliberal resource wars and the compound threats of climate change.

NeMLA is proud to have as its keynote speaker Rob Nixon, the Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Family Professor in the Humanities and the Environment at Princeton University. He is the author of four books, most recently Dreambirds: the Natural History of a Fantasy and Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, which won numerous awards, including the 2012 Sprout prize from the International Studies Association for the best book in environmental studies.

Nixon writes frequently for 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, Truthout, Huffington Post, Times Literary Supplement, Chronicle of Higher Education, Critical Inquiry, Public Culture and elsewhere.

Nixon’s work is particularly focused on the relationship between accelerating rates of environmental change and rising rates of economic disparity. How do rich and poor communities experience the impacts of climate change differently? In what ways do rich and poor communities suffer unequal exposure to the risks of a rapidly changing planet? And in what ways do rich and poor enjoy unequal access to diminishing resources in a time of heightened climatic stress? Such questions, he believes, demand imaginative, ethical, technological and political responses.