I grew up on mining towns in remote parts of South Africa, and joined the English Department in 2010. I am now a senior lecturer in southern African and postcolonial literatures. Much of my research explores the difficult relation between postcolonial and environmentalist approaches in the humanities, and what questions of deep time, slow violence, climate change and the non-human do to literary form.
In work on writers like Rachel Carson and Arundhati Roy, I have explored the language of public science writing and environmental justice, tracing how unstable ideas of ‘conservation’, ‘ecology’ and ‘pollution’ might be engaged from the global South. Subsequent projects have focused on scientific projects and infrastructures - national highways; the Square Kilometre Array Telescope (SKA); landscapes of waste - as well as the ecological, social and cultural legacies of nuclear and mining industries in Africa.
I have a strong interest in the essay as a creative, experimental form, and I try to engage with and write more ‘public’ forms of scholarship. I am particularly interested in forms of environmental writing, and the intersections between creative non-fiction, global ecological crisis and the arts of environmental justice and resistance.
Selected publications in the Environmental Humanities:
Experiments with Truth: Narrative Non-fiction and the Coming of Democracy in South Africa (James Currey, African Articulations, 2019)
Firepool: Experiences in an Abnormal World (Kwela Books, 2017). A collection of essays and creative non-fiction.
Peer-reviewed and academic articles
Teaching the Environmental Humanities: International Perspectives and Practices. Environmental Humanities 11:2 (2019). Contributing author.
Experiments with Truth: Narrative Nonfiction in South Africa. Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa, 31:2 (2019).
Impossible Images: Radio Astronomy, the SKA and the Limits of Representation. Journal of Southern African Studies 45:2 (2019).
An Interview with Rustum Kozain. Wasafiri, 31:2 (2016).
N2: Reading and Writing the South African Highway. Social Dynamics 43:1 (2017).
Invasive Narratives and the Inverse of Slow Violence: Alien Species in Science and Society. Environmental Humanities, vol. 7 (2015). Co-authored with Susanna Lidström, Simon West, Tania Katzschner and M. Isabel Pérez-Ramos (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden).
Sea Point Contact: Preface to a Literary History of Cape Town (Never Written). Weeds and Viruses: Ecopolitics and the Demands of Theory. Editors: Cordula Lemke and Jennifer Wawrzinek (2015). Foreword by Dipesh Chakrabarty.
Rachel Carson and the Perils of Simplicity: Reading Silent Spring from the global South. Ariel. Special Issue on Postcolonial Ecologies, 44:4 (2014).
‘The Sea Close By: The Coastal Diaries of Albert Camus, Athol Fugard and Stephen Watson.’ Alternation, Special Issue: Coastlines and Littoral Zones, (2013).
Essays, journalism and creative non-fiction
Picturing the universe and listening to the sound of stars. Radio astronomy and the Square Kilometre Array. Business Day, 14 January 2020.
Shadow of a Drought: Cape Town's water crisis and its aftermath. Financial Times, 27 July, 2018.
Half-lives, Half Truths. Svetlana Alexievich and the Nuclear Imagination. South Africa PEN essay series, 18 August 2016.
An Unnatural History. Review of Henrietta Rose-Innes, Green Lion. Sunday Times. 9 May 2015.
The Life of the Mine. Remembering Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014). Business Day, 22 July 2014.