Carnegie Mellon University

Ocean at sunset

Climate Justice Lecture & Seminar with May Joseph

Lecture: Climate, Oceans, Performance: New York as Archipelago

Thursday, March 31st @ 4:30 pm (EST)

New York is an archipelago city of over 40 islands. Its vulnerability to climate change has been a slow process of realization and an acceleration of infrastructural impact. Using performance methodologies as a tool of inquiry, this talk explores the forgotten histories of water in New York City through the traces of forgotten rivers. The presentation makes an implicit argument for art, particularly embodied approaches such as performance, being critical tools of environmental change in the struggle for a more equitable future.

Seminar: Oceans, Performance and Climate Writing

Friday, April 1st @ noon (EST)

Access the research paper

In 1937, Rachel Carson asked the question: “Who has known the Ocean?” Today, a major part of the world’s low-lying regions including islands, archipelagos and mega-cities lie across global Asia. The International Panel on Climate Change’s 2022 report presents disproportionately alarming consequences for these communities of the global South regarding the coming climate insecurities as a result of the historical actions and engagements of the global North. Subsidence, flooding and sinking conditions are generating a variety of insecure habitats that are hotter, muddier, wetter than ever before. As Aldo Leopold writes in The Sand County Almanac, we must take seriously the mud-dwellers. Dipesh Chakrabarty asks us to consider what habitability means for the global climate community. This workshop will open up the techniques of performance and the study of oceans as tools for understanding the unfair burdens of global precarity through the case of the Kerala coast of South India otherwise known as the Malabar. The paper circulated makes the argument that what happens in the Malabar is affecting New York City. Environmental precarity is a shared future. While this is not news, the IPCC report underscores that our actions do not reflect this terrifying reality.

May Joseph

May Joseph is a puppeteer, theater director and Founder of Harmattan Theater in New York City. Joseph is Professor of Global Studies in the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute, New York. Joseph has written widely on globalization, urbanism, performance and visual culture. She is the author of Nomadic Identities: The Performance of Citizenship (Minnesota, 1999) and coeditor of Performing Hybridity (Minnesota, 1999). Other co-edited volumes include City Corps (Journal of Space and Culture), New Hybrid Identities (Women and Performance, 1995) and Bodywork (Women and Performance, 1999). Joseph is completing a book on urban citizenship called Metro Lives: Performing the City, contracted by Duke University Press.