2018: Toxic Tales, Body Burdens and Climatic Conundrums

Toxic Tales Symposium

With debates about how or whether climate change is “pure myth” in an age of alt-facts, this symposium brings together scholars who think broadly and deeply about various forms of “toxicity” – social, sexual, economic, political, historically-situated, medical, as well as environmental – and the tales told about who and what is “toxic”, abnormal, diseased or harmful. Who represents “the folk” in Americana lore and in global narratives about progress? Where is the line between “traditionality” and “modernity,” who draws it, and what are its implications? How does “folk science” contribute to the making of current medical and agricultural innovations on a quickly heating planet? Drawing from Critical Race, Muslim, Indigenous, Queer and Environmental studies, this symposium’s storytellers will present on myriad “toxic tales” that span the intersections of folkloristics, queer theory, environmental and social justice, settler colonialism and structural racism in the United States and around the world.

(While this schedule is set, some details may still be subject to change, including participants' attendance and talk titles. Please check back for updates closer to the event! - Last updated March 8, 2018.)

(Free and open to the public.)


8:30 – 9:00 Breakfast

9:05 – 9:20 Opening Remarks (Ruth Goldstein)

9:30 – 10:45 Panel I: Climatic Conundrums

Evan Hepler-Smith, “Chemistries of Regret”

George Clarke

Olu Demurin, “Eco-Tourism in Dominica”

Devi Lockwood

*Amelia Moore, “Aquatic Invaders: Lionfish in the Bahamas”

*Julie Guthman, “Chemical Geographies”


10:45 – 11:00 Coffee Break

11:00 – 12:15 Panel II: Climate-Forced Migrations, Borders and Policing

Ashwak Hauter

Anwar Omeish

Nazish Riaz

Kaya Williams

*Laura Sofia Ramirez (need to ask)


12:15 – 1:15 Lunch

1:15 – 2:15 Panel III: Honoring Prof. Maria Tatar

Introduction: Stephen Mitchell

Christina Phillips Mattson

Katie Kohn

Lindsey Aakre

Ian Fleishman

Moira Weigel


2:15 – 2:30 Coffee Break

2:30 – 4:15 Panel IV: Toxic Tales

Stefanie Graeter

Kristen Simmons

Shakthi Nataraj

Karely Osorio

Ruth Goldstein


4:15 – 4:30 Coffee break

4:30 – 6:00 Keynote Speaker: Tiffany King

6:00 – 6:30 Wine and Cheese Reception