Stacey Balkan is assistant professor of Environmental Literature and Humanities at Florida Atlantic University. Her teaching and research focus on postcolonial ecologies, landscape aesthetics and counter-pastoralism, and environmental justice. Recent articles for The Global South and ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment examine the material legacies of uneven and combined development in Nigeria and India; and she is now at work on two book-length manuscripts–Rogues in the Postcolony: Developing Itinerancy in India and Oil Fictions: World Literature and our Contemporary Petrosphere.
Critiquing development policies in colonial and postcolonial India, Rogues in the Postcolony foregrounds the intersection(s) between landscape ideology, agricultural improvement, historical trauma, and aesthetic expression as each obtains in British-occupied Bengal, post- independence Mumbai and New Delhi, and late-capitalist Bhopal. From the transformation of commonly held land for agriculture to the construction of India’s premier urban enclaves, modern improvement schemes have hinged on the removal of figures, who have lately found expression in novels that replace the neoliberal fictions of the “new India” with the itinerant narratives of the postcolonial pícaro. These stories constitute what Balkan calls an “aesthetics of indigence,” which brings into sharp focus what picaresque enthusiasts have long characterized as la vida buscóna–translated loosely as the “low life” of the working-class protagonist.
Stacey is also co-editing a forthcoming collection entitled Oil Fictions: World literature and our Contemporary Petrosphere–an anthology situated within the emergent field of Petrocultures. Oil Fictions presents an attempt to grapple with the pervasiveness of this often-invisible biocultural agent through the cultivation of a robust petro-aesthetic practice.
Her recent work also includes essays on the Anthropocene and its relationship to Empire for Global South Studies and Public Books; and her earlier research, born of several years teaching Contemporary Latin American Literature and Anglophone World Literature at Bergen Community College in New Jersey, has been published in The Cambridge Companion to Comparative Literature, World Literature and Comparative Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature and Culture. At BCC, she also served as the co-director of the college’s Literary Arts Seriesand as a fellow for the Center for Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation.