English and Scottish Literature

Resisting Toxic Climates conference

In brief

Title - Resisting Toxic Climates: Gender, Colonialism, and Environment

Venue - Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

Organiser - British Academy/Wellcome Trust Conferences

About the conference

British Academy/Wellcome Trust Conferences brought together scholars and specialists from around the world to explore themes related to health and wellbeing.

Whether it’s the spectacular event of an oil spill or the scarcely perceptible pollution of micro-plastics, toxicity is central to the environmental concerns of today. To exist in the world means being vulnerable to multiple forms of toxicity. Yet, conditions of vulnerability are unequal, shaped by enduring global histories of colonialism and capitalism.

This event highlighted the toxic valences of coloniality and asked how toxicity manifests and mutates with particular regard to gender across variously situated bodies, lands and waterscapes. While we are concerned with the interrelated forms of material toxicity that threaten the wellbeing of human and more-than-human communities, we sought to facilitate dialogue around pertinent social, political and cultural discourses of toxification.

Operating at the intersections of the medical and environmental humanities, and centering feminist, queer, decolonial and Indigenous paradigms, this interdisciplinary event brought together scholars and practitioners working across disciplines and employing creative and/or critical modes of enquiry to explore these topics.

A programme for this two-day conference can be found on the British Academy website.

Visit the British Academy's conference page 

About the Edinburgh conference convenors

Dr Rebecca Macklin, University of Edinburgh

Rebecca Macklin is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. Her current research project examines literary and cultural engagements with gender, indigeneity and the extractive industries. Prior to coming to Edinburgh, Rebecca completed a PhD at the University of Leeds and from 2020-2021 was Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, University of Pennsylvania.

She is presently writing a book manuscript based on her PhD, entitled Unsettling Fictions: Relationality and Resistance in Native American and South African Literatures.

Read Rebecca's staff profile

Professor Michelle Keown, University of Edinburgh

Michelle Keown was born and grew up in New Zealand, where she completed a BA in English and Linguistics, and an MA in English Literature (specialising in Maori Literature in English), at the University of Waikato. She completed a PhD in Postcolonial Studies at the University of Kent (in 2000) and subsequently took up a Lectureship in Colonial and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Stirling (in 2001).

In 2005, she joined the English Department at Edinburgh, where she teaches courses on Postcolonial writing, New Zealand and Pacific literature and film, and Modernism and empire.

Read Michelle's staff profile

About the Edinburgh speakers

Dr Hannah Boast, University of Edinburgh

Hannah Boast joined University College Dublin in 2020 as Lecturer/Assistant Professor and Ad Astra Fellow. Before then, she was previously Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at University of Warwick, and Teaching Fellow in Contemporary and Postcolonial Literature at University of Birmingham. She has also taught at University of York.

Her research focuses on the culture and politics of water. It has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the BA-RIA Knowledge Frontiers programme, the White Rose Universities Consortium, and competitive internal funding schemes at UCD and University of York.

Hannah will be joining the School of Literatures, Languages, and Cultures later this summer as a Chancellor's Fellow.

Read Hannah's UCD staff profile

Dr Alycia Pirmohamed, University of Cambridge

Alycia Piromohamed is Canadian-born poet based in the UK.  She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh.

She was previously a postdoctoral Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Liverpool, and a Junior Anniversary Fellow at The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh between October 2021 and July 2022. In 2020, Alycia was the winner of the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award.

Read Alycia's IASH staff profile

How to attend

The conference was open to all, and costed. Registration and tickets were available on ePay.

Image copyright notes

Carolina Caycedo, 'Thanks For Hosting Us, We Are Healing our Broken Bodies / Gracias por hospedarnos. Estamos sanando nuestros cuerpos rotos', 2019.1 channel HD Video 8:48 min, color and sound. With: Marina Magalhaes (Choreography), José Richard Aviles, Tatiana Zamir, Belle Alvarez, Bianca Medina, Isis Avalos, Patty Huerta, Celeste Tavares. Photographer: Bobby Gordon. Courtesy of the artist.

A banner with an image of red-stained cloth in a small stream

Resisting Toxic Climates conference

A two-day, in-person conference that explored critical and creative responses to questions of gender, colonialism and environment. Organised by British Academy and Wellcome Trust Conferences.

Royal Botanic Gardens