Research

Publications

“Seed Bags and Storytelling: Modes of Living and Writing after the End in Wanuri Kahiu’s Pumzi.” (Forthcoming in Critical Philosophy of Race: Special Issue on Race and the Anthropocene, 2019).

“Narratives of Modernity: Creolization and Early-Postcolonial Style in Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka.” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry v 5.3, April 2018.

“Precedence and Warning: Global Apartheid and South Africa’s Long Conversation on Race with the United States.” Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies v. 18.3, June 2017.

“Relating to and Through Land: An Ecology of Relations in Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka.” The Postcolonial World. Eds. Jyotsna Singh and David D. Kim. New York: Routledge Press, September 2016.

“Exile in Mauritius: Colonial Violence and Indian Ocean Archives.” (co-authored with Ronit Frenkel) Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies, v. 30.2, July 2016.

“Ecologies of Relation: Post-Slavery, Post-Apartheid and Rethinking Race Across the Atlantic in Zakes Mda’s Cion.” Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, v. 17.1, February 2016.

“The Ethics of Listening and Empathy’s Movements.” The Johannesburg Salon, v. 8, March 2015.

“Framing the Debate on Race: Global Historiography and Local Flavor in Berni Searle’s Colour Me series.”  Image and Text v. 17.1, 2011.

“Photography and the Archive: 15th ACASA Triennial Conference, 2011.” African Arts v. 44.3 Fall, 2011.

Book Manuscripts in Preparation

Writing the Land: Race and the Ecological Imaginary in African Literature (submission for October 2017).

This project argues for new approaches for thinking about race in relation to both climate change and to the environment in African literatures.  The project begins by offering a long history of environmental and ecological thinking in African literature as a way to rethink the history of this field. For instance, I return to early-twentieth century writers from southern Africa, such as Thomas Mofolo and Sol T. Plaatje, in order to argue that both writers offer an early example of ecological thinking. In this way, I claim that African literature as a field, and from its foundational moment, is an environmentally-minded and eco-critical literature. I trace these eco-politics through the independence moment of the mid-twentieth century – through re-readings of writers such as Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiong’o – and up to the present moment in oder to show a trajectory of environmental thinking running throughout the history of literatures from the continent. Through this ecological historicization of African Literature, I argue that contemporary expressions of afrofuturism and African science fiction, in both fiction and film, can be read as part of this much longer tradition of ecological thinking in the African literary imagination. Moreover, the project contextualizes current debates about where writing from the African continent situates itself within discourses on the Anthropocene, the current epoch of the earth where human have become geological and climatic agents. By exploring ecological thinking from Africa, my research also interrogates the universalism of climate change discourse in order to reorient critical approaches to the Anthropocene in the Global South.

Holocaust in the Indian Ocean: Exile in Mauritius and the Making of Postcolonial History.
This project explores an archive of Jewish detention on the island of Mauritius during WWII. While these detainees were part of the refugee crisis that Hannah Arendt describes as the statelessness created by European fascism, they were also pawns in a geo-political struggle over the British Mandate of Palestine. My research explores the process of the ‘production of refugees’ that became characteristic of the mid-twentieth century state craft, leaving this particular group to to the machinations of the British Empire. I situate this relatively unknown history in relation to a larger body of work on the role of islands within the geopolitical tectonics of empire. Arguing that the island of Mauritius provided a particular form of a “carceral archipelago,” I position a series of representations of the island – both visual and written – from the perspective of the Jewish detainees as a way to read the role of Mauritius and the Indian Ocean as a particular and underexplored theater of the Holocaust. I also read Mauritian author Natchacha Appanah’s fictional account of this story of Jewish detention as re-centering Mauritius within an Indian Ocean history of the Holocaust. The project claims that Appanah’s literature, when read against the dissolution of the British Empire and its Palestine Mandate, remaps Postcolonial history from the vantage point of the Indian Ocean. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded research in Mauritius to investigate archives for this project.