Who are we?
In the 2020 spring semester, Rachel Kirk and Eirann Cohen met in a course at Columbia University on the topic of “Disorderly Women” in Caribbean Literature, taught by Professor Kaiama Glover. This course explored the way in which female voices and figures disrupt traditionally masculine literary narratives, looking at the way in which troubling female characters may reflect or shed light onto the social and historical context of the region. Through our studies, we noticed strong connections between the subjugation of the female figures we were reading with patterns of ecological destruction, as well as disorder and resistance to this subjugation. In noticing these patterns, we wanted to explore this further through this platform. Our project continued to grow in the Fall of 2020, when we took a course called "The Caribbean Digital" with Professor Kaiama Glover and Professor Alex Gil. This course examined the Caribbean as a fluid geo-cultural space, interrogating the role of the internet in disrupting traditional structures of power. Here, we met Soraya Limare. Soraya's overlapping research interests on gender and Francophone literature from the Caribbean, as well as her experience with digital humanities projects, inspired a collaboration.
Eirann Cohen is a Ph.D. candidate in French Literature, Thought and Culture at NYU. With an academic and professional background in both French and Environmental Policy, her research focuses on literary representations of lands, plants, and femininity in 19th-, 20th-, and 21st century Francophone literature. She is particularly interested in considering environmental representations in creative writing and visual art that disturb masculinist, imperialist narratives and allow female liberation and self-expression.
Rachel Kirk is a program manager at AC4 at the Earth Institute at Columbia University with a MA in International Education Development from Teachers College. Her interests include language policy and citizenship education in France, disaster capitalism and education privatization in New Orleans, and international education on social and environmental issues. She has taught in New Orleans, Louisiana, as well as in Morocco, France, and Spain, and has led several high school and university academic trips abroad, including programs in Morocco on the global intersections on race, gender, indigenous rights, and environmental justice, and a program in Martinique focusing on sustainable development and climate change.
Soraya Limare graduated from Ecole Normale Supérieure-Ulm and is now a PhD candidate at Columbia University in the department of French and Romance Philology. Her research focuses on francophone literature from the Caribbean.
As white, non-Caribbean scholars based at well-resourced universities in New York that have placed large emphasis on climate and sustainability, our goal is to facilitate a wider conversation about climate change in a space has tended to leave out the legacy of colonialism. Through our professional work as it relates to environmental issues, we have seen first-hand the explicit failure to include discussion of colonialism, capitalism, racism, and patriarchy in predominantly white environmental and climate change circles. We hope to leverage the resources of our respective universities to facilitate connections in these fields, and to spotlight the work that scholars and professionals in the Caribbean, France, and the U.S. have been doing for quite some time to lead this conversation and decolonize the space of these fields.
If these topics are of interest to you, we are very open to collaborators from other parts of the world, recommendations, and feedback as this project evolves.