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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Middle Eastern Literatures

For a Special Issue on
Fragile Ecologies: Environmental Urgency in the Literatures of the Middle East

Manuscript deadline
01 September 2022

Cover image - Middle Eastern Literatures

Special Issue Editor(s)

Charis Olszok, University of Cambridge, UK
[email protected]

Huda J. Fakhreddine, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Nora E. H. Parr, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Adam Talib, Durham University, UK

Submit an ArticleVisit JournalArticles

Fragile Ecologies: Environmental Urgency in the Literatures of the Middle East

Alan Mikhail has argued that, “an environmental perspective helps address some of the largest and most intractable problems of Middle East historiography, among them issues of geographic demarcation and periodization. It also allows for the introduction of historical actors who have been crucial to the region’s history but remain missing from the historiographical literature, including animals, microbes, wind, and silt” (Water on Sand, 11). This special issue of Middle Eastern Literatures proposes a reading of literatures that give voice to this agency of nonhuman ecologies, destabilising traditional geographic, historical, and generic boundaries. We welcome papers that address literary expressions of ecological urgency, in which the human is decentred, made vulnerable, and marked by an awareness of End Times or apocalypse. Over the past century, this may be related to growing tensions over water scarcity, the oil ‘curse’, waning biodiversity, growing toxicity, and global warming. Yet previous literatures, too, have evoked climate-driven migration and warfare, and we are keen to explore the comparative possibilities they offer.

With this in mind, Middle Eastern Literatures seeks articles that respond to the theme of “Fragile Ecologies”. We welcome articles that address texts – whether literary or filmic – which directly concern this theme, as well as those in which it is a nagging, background concern. We welcome articles on both modern and pre-modern texts, and both poetry and prose, suggesting how we might address contemporary anxieties through the poetics of the past. Amitav Ghosh writes that “[…] the novel was midwifed into existence around the world, through the banishing of the improbable and the insertion of the everyday,” suggesting this turning away from the “improbable” as a major obstacle to writing the current climate crisis. What genres and aesthetics, then, are needed to address the improbability of climate crisis and apocalypse, the return of the nonhuman to our consciousness as an urgent, pressing agent of change, and the decentring of the human through freak weather events and imperceptible transformations to land and ecologies? Through these questions, we seek papers that address the fields of Energy Humanities and Ecocriticism from Middle Eastern perspectives, exploring the comparative possibilities of ecocritical reading, theorising genres of environmental writing, and the aesthetics of climate crisis.

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