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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities


Trashy Encounters: Modernity, the Great Pacific Garbage Gyre, and Indigenous Futures Poster


Trashy Encounters: Modernity, the Great Pacific Garbage Gyre, and Indigenous Futures  


Yu-ting Huang • Wesleyan University

October 26 @ 6 P.M.
Zoom Conference: https://wesleyan.zoom.us/j/95004803269

Beginning with Alexis Wright's Carpentaria (2006) and Wu Ming-yi's Man with the Compound Eye (2011), two contemporary novels that represent Indigenous peoples' relation with trash and especially marine plastic, this talk reflects on both figures' relations with modernity. Indigeneity and plastic waste are frequently characterized with a temporal polarity: while indigenous peoples are romanticized as the organic—but already faded—origin of humanity, the haunting indestructibility of plastic waste looms in human imaginations of the future. As such, modern ecological cultures frequently position the two in opposition, pushing each further into the temporal past and future and out of view of modernity's progress. The talk interrogates the ideological underpinning of this assumption, reconsiders Indigenous peoples' encounters with modernity's material refuse, and delineates what this rethinking may tell us about Indigenous futurities.

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