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I am a Professor of English and Environmental Humanities in the Department of English and a Senior Sustainability Scholar at the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. I am also the Director of the Environmental Humanities Certificate and an Affiliate of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.
I am past President (2012) of the Association for the Study Literature and Environment (ASLE) and Co-Principle Investigator of the North American Observatory and West Cluster of the Andrew W. Mellon funded project, "Humanities for the Environment" (HfE) which is networking members of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI). I co-led the HfE website development team and am currently working with HfE members in Europe and Australia to organize an Asian HfE Observatory that will launch in late 2014.
I am the author of American Indian Literature, Environmental Justice and Ecocriticism (2001, U of Arizona P) and co-editor, with Kimberly N. Ruffin, of American Studies, Ecocriticism and Citizenship: Thinking and Acting in the Local and Global Commons (2013, Routledge). I co-edited The Environmental Justice Reader (2002, U of Arizona P, with Mei Mei Evans and Rachel Stein), a groundbreaking collection cited in many languages and credited with helping shift the field of ecocriticism towards “ecojustice revisionism.” Another collection, Keywords for Environmental Studies (co-edited with William Gleason and David Pellow), is in press at New York University Press.
I have delivered keynotes and lectures in the US, Germany, Scotland, Spain, Hong Kong, and Taiwan and presented over 50 conference papers. My books, articles, chapters and reviews, many of which can be found on my Academia.edu page, interpret the impacts of rapid environmental change and widening social disparities caused by climate change and articulate the reasons why interdisciplinary alliances between the environmental humanities and the natural and technological sciences are crucial to solving the complex urban and ecological challenges we face now and in the future.
My book project in progress, “Long Count Time: Nature, Narrative, and the Environmental Humanities,” outlines two of the most important new directions in the environmental humanities, namely multispecies ethnography and critical plant studies, as it elaborates an emerging movement networking social and environmental justice groups around the world that are seeking recognition of the “rights” of nonhuman species and entities, i.e., sacred mountains, rivers, “mother trees,” glacial ecosystems, etc. This movement has been referred to as “cosmopolitics.” Building on my earlier writings about ancient almanacs and indigenous oral narratives as “seeing instruments” (American Indian Literatures, Environmental Justice, and Ecocriticism 2001), this book explores how stories from indigenous scientific literacies, as expressed in contemporary literature and film, continue to have “explanatory power” for modern environmental networks, civil society organizations, academics, and cosmpolitical leaders resisting displacement and threats to social and ecosystemic health caused by large-scale development schemes and accelerating global environmental change. As a whole, the book explicates the ways in which the Environmental Humanities are opening innovative possibilities for cultural and narrative analysis that is more firmly and productively rooted in the sciences of nature.