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 deals with very local materials – the natural, literary and social histories of Cape Town – as it explores the difficult relation between postcolonial and environmentalist approaches in the humanities.
At the moment, I am particularly interested in how ideas of space and place play out in compelling non-fiction narrative – especially in those parts of the world that are subject to extreme spatial distortion and inequality. 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.
I also have a strong interest in the essay as a creative, experimental form. I try to read and write more ‘public’ forms of scholarship, and at present am thinking about a cultural history of the N2 highway.
Selected publications in the Environmental Humanities:
Firepool: Experiences in an Abnormal World (Kwela Books, 2017). A collection of my essays and creative non-fiction.
N2: Reading and Writing the South African Highway. Social Dynamics (2017).
Half-lives, Half Truths. Svetlana Alexievich and the Nuclear Imagination. South Africa PEN essay series, 18 August 2016.
Nuclear Summer. A walk through South Africa’s nuclear pasts and futures. Sunday Times, 7 February 2016.
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).
An Unnatural History. Review of Henrietta Rose-Innes, Green Lion. Sunday Times. 9 May 2015.
Rachel Carson and the Perils of Simplicity: Reading Silent Spring from the global South. Ariel. Special Issue on Postcolonial Ecologies, 44:4 (2014).
The Life of the Mine. Remembering Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014). Business Day, 22 July 2014.
‘The Sea Close By: The Coastal Diaries of Albert Camus, Athol Fugard and Stephen Watson.’ Alternation, Special Issue: Coastlines and Littoral Zones, (2013).