Climate Imperialism: Ecocriticism, Postcolonialism, and Global Climate Change




climate change, imperialism, colonialism, ecocriticism, postcolonialism, indigenous resistance, Tropics, empire


Global climate change threatens to kill or displace hundreds of thousands of people and will irrevocably change the lifestyles of practically everyone on the planet. However, the effect of imperialism and colonialism on climate change is a topic that has not received adequate scrutiny. Empire has been a significant factor in the rise of fossil fuels. The complicated connections between conservation and empire often make it difficult to reconcile the two disparate fields of ecocriticism and postcolonial studies. This paper will discuss how empire and imperialism have contributed to, and continue to shape, the ever-looming threat of global climate crisis, especially as it manifests in the tropics. Global climate change reinforces disparate economic, social, and racial conditions that were started, fostered, and thrived throughout the long history of colonization, inscribing climate change as a new, slow form of imperialism that is retracing the pathways that colonialism and globalism have already formed. Ultimately, it may only be by considering climate change through a postcolonial lens and utilizing indigenous resistance that the damage of this new form of climate imperialism can be undone.

Author Biography

Rachel Hartnett, University of Florida, USA

Rachel Hartnett is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Florida. Her dissertation, titled “Base Camp Literature: US Structures of Franchise and Settler Colonialism”, focuses on texts written by native and indigenous writers living in spaces occupied by the U.S. military. She earned her M.A. in English in 2016 from Florida Atlantic University. Her article, “‘The Silver Queen’: U.S. Imperialism and A Song of Ice and Fire” was recently published with the Journal of Popular Culture.


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How to Cite

Hartnett, R. (2021). Climate Imperialism: Ecocriticism, Postcolonialism, and Global Climate Change. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 20(2), 138–155.