Slow Violence and Our Political Moment

Rob Nixon, Princeton University

Revisiting his book, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, Rob Nixon will discuss slow violence in relation to some of the most urgent issues of our time. These include climate breakdown, the Movement for Black Lives, COVID-19, and the future of fracking.

Rob Nixon is the Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Family Professor in the Humanities and the Environment at Princeton University. He is also affiliated with the Princeton Environmental Institute’s initiative in the environmental humanities. Before joining Princeton in 2015, Nixon held the Rachel Carson Professorship in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was active in the Center for Culture, History and Environment. He has published extensively in the fields of environmental studies, postcolonial studies, nonfiction and contemporary literature and has delivered lectures on six continents.

Throughout his career, he has sought to engage in both scholarly and public writing on environmental concerns and social movements, particularly as they pertain to the global South. As his publications, teaching, and institutional initiatives attest, Nixon believes that in an era of increasingly elaborate global entanglements we need to engage seriously with the diverse genealogies of environmental studies and with the wide spectrum of what counts as environmentalism in different parts of the world, be they rich or poor, crowded or sparsely inhabited, urban or rural, religious or secular, imminently threatened or provisionally secure.

He 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 Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Harvard), which was selected by Choice as an outstanding book of 2011. Slow Violence has received four prizes: an American Book Award; the 2012 Sprout prize from the International Studies Association for the best book in environmental studies; the 2012 Interdisciplinary Humanities Award for the best book to straddle disciplines in the humanities; and the 2013 biennial ASLE Award for the best book in environmental literary studies.

Watch Rob Nixon’s lecture below.