Lecture / Reading

Modes of Embodiment: Race, Praxis, and Environmental Justice

Sponsored by Stanford Humanities Center, CORE Research Workshop, Stanford Arts Institute, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and Department of Theater and Performance Studies.


Thursday, May 27, 2021
4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
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Please join us for a panel discussion on environmental justice featuring ethnomusicologist Nadia Chana, artist-theorist Elaine Gan, and scholar-activist Pavithra Vasudevan. Centering themes of temporality, corporeality, and race, our panelists come together to discuss the un/making of bodies, corporeal archives, and sounding praxes of environmental justice as they intersect with one another. Moderated by Stanford Mellon Fellow in English, Carlos Alonso Nugent.

Singing with Rivers | Nadia Chan, an assistant professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, grew up in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta) singing in choirs, a context that directly shapes her work however invisibly. Nadia’s research unfolds from three premises: that listening is a relational act, something that takes place between a listener and a sounding body; that North American contexts are already Indigenous contexts; and that ecological crisis “immediately demands we look elsewhere than where we are standing” (Povinelli 2016). Nadia explores how singing and listening become critical tools for building a felt relationship with a more-than human world. Also active as a performer and facilitator, Nadia uses live art song and oratorio performance in combination with group exercises to help people feel their way into and through loss. In 2012, she co-founded the Bicycle Opera Project, a small opera company that takes contemporary Canadian opera to Canadians by bicycle.

Agential Oryza: Un/Making Bodies, Bits, and Bombs | Elaine Gan is an artist and theorist who works at the intersections of feminist science and technology studies, environmental humanities, and digital media arts to engage more-than human socialites, particularly entanglements of plants, machines, and data. Gan is Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow at New York University's graduate program in Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement. She recently coedited an interdisciplinary anthology, Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene (2017), and leads the Multispecies Worldbuilding Lab, a collaborative project that engages interdisciplinary methods for investigating climate change.

Storytelling the Lungs as Corporeal Archive | Pavithra Vasudevan (she/they) is Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and a recipient of the 2020- 21 AAUW American Postdoctoral Fellowship. Vasudevan’s research addresses toxicity as a manifestation of racial violence, capitalist entanglements with state and science, and the abolitional possibilities of collective struggle. Their book manuscript in progress, titled Toxic Alchemy: Black Life and Death in Racial Capitalism, theorizes Blackness in industrial capitalism, beginning with the experiences and insights of Black workers and their families in the aluminum company town of Badin, NC.

Carlos Alonso Nugent (moderator) is a literary, cultural, and environmental historian of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands—and, more broadly, the Americas. He has published articles in American Literature, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, and Modernism/Modernity Print Plus; his “Lost Archives, Lost Lands: Rereading New Mexico’s Imagined Environments” won the Norman Foerster Prize for the Best Article of the Year in American Literature. In 2020, he received his Ph.D. from Yale University; in 2020-21, he is participating in the Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities at Stanford University; finally, in 2021-22, he is joining the faculty of Vanderbilt University.