Racialized Ecologies in and Beyond Settler-Colonial Canada: Documentary, Speculative, and Poetic Texts and Contexts

The project is part of the recent shift in environmental justice literary and cultural study to consider how large-scale atmospheric, planetary, and geological dimensions of anthropogenic environmental change can be read as registers of the racial formations of the modern world. We propose that a racial-justice-framed, extended temporal-geopolitical scale for understanding environmental crises through historicization presents a new role for cultural studies research in Canada: to examine the longue durée material socio-ecological relations through which ecological transformation has been shaped by the racial formations of settler-colonial Canada as revealed within cultural texts and the contexts of their production and circulation. The project will study how three aesthetic modes--the poetic, the documentary, and the speculative--are used by Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian-diasporic writers, filmmakers and artists to grapple with and change debilitating political ecologies and how these political ecologies are made in conjunction with settler-colonial policies and racialized management of resources, land, labour, and migration in four periods of the Canadian nation-building project.

Research team: Dr. Cheryl Lousley (Lakehead), primary investigator; Dr. Tania Aguila-Way (Toronto), Dr. Renae Watchman (McMaster), Dr. Anita Girvan (Athabasca), Dr. Susie O’Brien (McMaster), Dr. Nandini Thiyagaranjan (Acadia), Dr. Joanne Leow (Saskatchewan)

Environmental Narrative and Memory in Contemporary Canadian and Indigenous Writing

This research project explores how Canadian and Indigenous writers tell environmental stories that remember contested histories: stories about resource collapse, displaced communities, poisoned workers, landscapes in ruins, Indigenous dispossession, contaminated waters, and diminished futures. I work on understanding how these stories approach the political difficulties of unevenly shared resource benefits, degradation, pollution, and health risks. And I examine how the ecological losses they describe are and are not acknowledged in the national myths and shared cultural memories that underlie collective political action and response.

Planet and Narration: Narrative Testimonies and World-Making at the Brundtland Commission Public Hearings

This SSHRC-funded research project is an in-depth examination of the narratives and narrative contexts through which participants in the World Commission on Environment and Development (1983-87) public hearings contributed to developing, contesting, and performing an imagined global community. The project aims to develop an understanding of how this particular imagined globality was brought into public discourse and gained cultural authority. It will contribute to an emerging literary and cultural studies scholarship on imagined globalities and their relationship to fragmentary global regimes of finance, governance, and ecological management.


Jenny Kerber and Cheryl Lousley, “Literary Responses to Indigenous Climate Justice and the Canadian Settler-State,” in The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Climate, ed. Adeline Johns-Putra and Kelly Sultzbach, Cambridge Companions to Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022), 269–80, https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009057868.019.

Lousley, Cheryl. “After Extraction: Idling in the Ruins in Michael Winter’s and Alistair MacLeod’s Neoliberal Fictions.” Special Issue on Neoliberal Environments. Studies in Canadian Literature//Études en littérature Canadienne 45.2 (2021): pp. 229-253. (Honourable Mention for the 2020 Studies in Canadian Literature Herb Wyile Prize in Canadian Literature.)

Lousley, Cheryl. “Ecocriticism.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. Oxford University Press, 2015—. Article published October 27, 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190201098.013.974.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Spectral Environmentalisms: National Politics and Gothic Ecologies in Silent Spring, Surfacing and Salt Fish Girl.” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 25:1 (September 2018): 412-428.

O’Brien, Susie, and Cheryl Lousley, ed. “Environmental Futurity.” Special Issue of Resilience: Journal of Environmental Humanities 4.2-3 (Spring-Fall 2017).

O’Brien, Susie, and Cheryl Lousley. “A History of Environmental Futurity: Special Issue Introduction.” Resilience: Journal of Environmental Humanities. Special Issue on Environmental Futurity. 4.2-3. (Spring-Fall 2017): 1-20.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Global Futures Past: Our Common Future, Postcolonial Times, and Worldly Ecologies.” Special Issue on Environmental Futurity. Resilience: Journal of Environmental Humanities 4.2-3 (Spring-Fall 2017): 21-42.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Charismatic Life: Spectacular Biodiversity and Biophilic Life Writing.” Special Issue on Spectacular Environmentalisms. Environmental Communication 10.6 (November 2016): 704-718.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Humanitarian Melodramas, Globalist Nostalgia: Affective Temporalities of Globalization and Uneven Development.” Special issue on Time and Globalization. Globalizations 13.3 (June 2016): 310-328.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Confessions of a Print Modern (on Bruno Latour’s AIME).” Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities 4.1 (Winter 2016): 114-119.

Lousley, Cheryl, and Stephanie Posthumus. “Canadian Forum on Bruno Latour’s An Inquiry into Modes of Existence.Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities 4.1 (Winter 2016): 110-113.

Lousley, Cheryl, ed. “On Sylvia Bowerbank, Green Literary Scholar” and “Sitting in the Bush.” The Goose: A Journal of Arts, Environment and Culture in Canada 15.2 (2017): Articles 25 and 26.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Dionne Brand’s Environmental Poetics.” Special issue on No Language is Neutral: Writings on Dionne Brand, ed. Dina Georgis, Katherine McKittrick, and Rinaldo Walcott. Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 34 (Fall 2015): 39-61.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Narrating a Global Future: Our Common Future and the Public Hearings of the World Commission on Environment and Development.” Global Ecologies and the Environmental Humanities: Postcolonial Approaches. Ed. Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Jill Didur, and Anthony Carrigan. New York: Routledge, 2015. 245-267.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Ecocriticism and the Politics of Representation.” Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism. Ed. Greg Garrard. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 155-171.

Lousley, Cheryl. “A Feminist Carnivalesque Ecocriticism: The Grotesque Environments of Barbara Gowdy’s Domestic Fictions.” Special issue on Canadian Literary Ecologies. Studies in Canadian Literature/Études en littérature canadienne 39.1 (2014): 121-142.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Slow Violence and Dirty Mourning.” English Studies in Canada. Readers’ Forum: The Dirt on Dirt Today. 40:2/3 (2014): 31-36.

Lousley, Cheryl. “With Love From Band Aid: Sentimental Exchange, Affective Economies, and Popular Globalism.” Emotion, Space & Society 10 (2014): 7-17.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Ecocriticism in the Unregulated Zone.” Critical Collaborations: Indigeneity, Diaspora, and Ecology in Canadian Literary Studies. Ed. Smaro Kamboureli and Christl Verduyn. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2014. 141-157.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Knowledge, Power, and Place: Environmental Politics in the Fiction of Matt Cohen and David Adams Richards.” (Reprint). Greening the Maple: Canadian Ecocriticism in Context, ed. Ella Soper and Nicholas Bradley. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2013. 247-272.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Band Aid Reconsidered: Sentimental Cultures and Populist Humanitarianism.” Popular Representations of Development: Insights from Novels, Films, Television, and Social Media. Ed. David Lewis, Dennis Rodgers, and Michael Woolcock. London: Routledge, 2013. 174-192.

Lousley, Cheryl. “The I in Interdisciplinary Studies.” Making Tracks: Human and Environmental Histories. Ed. Christof Mauch et al. Munich: RCC Perspectives 2013, no. 5. 123-126.

Lousley, Cheryl. “E.O. Wilson’s Biodiversity, Commodity Culture, and Sentimental Globalism.” Why do we value diversity?  Ed. Diana Mincyte, Ursula Münster, and Gary Martin. Munich: RCC Perspectives 2012, no. 9. 11-16.

Culver, Lawrence, Heike Egner, Stefania Gallini, Agnes Kneitz, Uwe Luebken, Cheryl Lousley, Diana Mincyte, Gijs Mom, and Gordon Winder. Revisiting Risk Society: A Conversation with Ulrich Beck. RCC Perspectives 2011, no. 6.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Ethics, Nature, and the Stranger: Cosmopolitanism in Dionne Brand’s Long Poems Thirsty and Inventory.” Special Issue on Transcultural Spaces: Challenges of Urbanity, Ecology, and the Environment, ­­ed. Stefan Brandt, Winfried Fluck, and Frank Mehring. REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature 26 (2010) 295-310.

Lousley, Cheryl. “‘I Love the Goddamn River’: Masculinity, Emotion, and Ethics of Place.” In Emotion, Place and Culture, ed. Mick Smith, Joyce Davidson, Laura Cameron, and Liz Bondi. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2009. 227-243.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Witness to the Body Count: Planetary Ethics in Dionne Brand’s Inventory.” Canadian Poetry 63 (Fall/Winter 2008): 37-58.

Lousley, Cheryl. “When the Whale Responds: Narrating the Ethical Subject in Farley Mowat’s A Whale for the Killing.” Environmental Philosophy 5.2 (Fall 2008): 129-147.

Lousley, Cheryl. “‘Hosanna Da, Our Home on Natives’ Land’: Environmental Justice and Democracy in Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water.Essays on Canadian Writing 81 (Winter 2004): 17-44.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Home on the Prairie? A Feminist and Postcolonial Reading of Sharon Butala, Di Brandt, and Joy Kogawa.” The ISLE Reader: Ecocriticism, 1993-2003, ed. Michael Branch and Scott Slovic, Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2003. 318-343. (Reprint from ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 8.2 (2001): 71-96.)

Fry, Kimberley, and Cheryl Lousley. “Green Grrrl Power.” Canadian Woman Studies 20.4/21.1 (2001): 148-151. (Reprint of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun – With Politics”from Alternatives Journal 27.2 (2001): 24-28.)

Lousley, Cheryl. “(De)Politicizing the Environment Club: Environmental Discourses and the Culture of Schooling.” Environmental Education Research 5.3 (1999): 293-304.

Lousley, Cheryl. “Hamilton’s Plastimet Fire: A Political Anatomy of an Environmental Disaster.” j_spot (Journal of Social and Political Thought) 1.1 (Spring 1998).