Scott A. Margolin '99 Lecture in Environmental Affairs
Rachel Carson Professor of English and Environmental Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Tuesday, October 30, 7:00p
McCullough Social Space
We are accustomed to conceiving of violence as immediate, explosive and spectacular, as erupting into instant visibility. By contrast, Nixon’s talk will focus on the more insidious threats and representational challenges posed by slow violence, i.e. forms of violence that occur gradually and out of sight. Such violence is spectacle deficient and dispersed across time: it’s an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all.
With regard to climate change, toxic drift, deforestation, desertification, ocean acidification, and the poisonous aftermaths of war how to we devise arresting stories and symbols adequate to this elusive violence of delayed effects, a violence that is often not just attritional but exponential? For slow violence frequently operates as a major threat multiplier; it can fuel, long term, proliferating conflicts wrought from desperation, as the conditions for sustaining life become geometrically degraded.
Our temporal bias towards spectacular violence, Nixon argues, exacerbates the vulnerability of ecosystems treated as disposable by turbo-capitalism, while simultaneously exacerbating the vulnerability of those whom Kevin Bales has called disposable people. It is against such conjoined ecological and human disposability that we have witnessed a resurgent environmentalism of the poor.
October 4, 2012: Rob Nixon wins American Book Award
Rob Nixon received his Ph.D. from Columbia University and is the author of four books: London Calling. V. S. Naipaul, Postcolonial Mandarin (Oxford); Homelands, Harlem and Hollywood. South African Culture and the World Beyond (Routledge); Dreambirds: the Natural History of a Fantasy (Picador); and most recently Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Harvard University Press 2011). Slow Violence was awarded the 2011 prize for the best book in the field of interdisciplinary humanities scholarship as well as the 2011 prize for the best book in the field of international environmental studies. Nixon is a frequent contributor to the New York Times. His writing has also appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Village Voice, The Nation, The Guardian, PMLA, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Critical Inquiry. He has published over a hundred journal articles, essays, and book chapters, with a particular emphasis on postcolonial, environmental justice, and African studies and nonfiction. He has been a recipient of a Guggenheim, an NEH, and a MacArthur Foundation Peace and Security Award.
About the Scott A. Margolin '99 Lecture in Environmental Affairs
This annual lecture, like the Environmental Studies Program, takes an interdisciplinary approach to the natural environment and human interaction with it.
In 1998, the Environmental Affairs Lecture was named in honor of Scott A. Margolin, of the Middlebury College Class of 1999. In his one year here, Scott established himself as a dedicated student of Environmental Studies, a leader in Environmental Quality and other student affairs, and an outstanding writer. He lives in our memory.
2012 - Jerome Nriagu, professor of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health. View video
2011 - Antwi Akom, professor of Urban Sociology and Africana Studies at San Francisco State University
2010 - John Elder, professor of Environmental Studies and English and American Literature, Middlebury College. View video
2009 - Dr. P. Dee Boersma, biologist
2008 - Gus Speth, Dean, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
2007 - Barry Lopez, essayist and nature writer
2006 - Michael E. Mann, Director, Penn State Earth System Science Center
2005 - Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
2004 - J. Baird Callicott, professor of philosophy, University of North Texas
2003 - Paul Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford University
2002 - Michael Dombeck, Former Chief of the United States Forest Service
2001 - Lawrence Buell, English Professor, Harvard University
2000 - Reed Noss, conservation biologist
1999 - Michael MacCracken, US Global Change Research Program
1998 - Rick Bass, writer and activist
1997 - Joseph Bruchac, Abenaki storyteller
1996 - Steven Schneider, environmental scientist
1995 - David Orr, environmental educator
1994 - Terry Tempest Williams, writer
1993 - Walter Reid, environmental scientist
1992 - William Cronon, environmental historian
1991 - Scott Russell Sanders, writer
1990 - Norman Myers, environmental scientist
1989 - Madeleine Kunin, Governor of Vermont