SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Michelle Louise Clarke

MRes. Environment and Development, Lancaster University; BA Hons. Geography (First Class), Lancaster University
  • Research
  • Publications


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Michelle Louise Clarke
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Thesis title:
Eco-criticism in African Literature: New Interpretations
Internal Supervisors


Michelle Clarke is a final year PhD student at SOAS. Her research interests centre around Ecocriticism, African Philosophy and Environmental Ethics. Her thesis engages with ecocritical discourse within African Speculative Fictions. She is particularly interested in how science fiction, speculative genres and imaginative scenarios can be used to produce very real outcomes for policy implementation and sustainable futures. She obtained a Research Masters (MRes.) from Lancaster University and her background in the field of Environment and Development means she has carried out varied field work projects, such as assessing the impacts of climate change on hibiscus growers in Uganda and researching the use of oral history in land disputes cases in Ghana.

PhD Research

My thesis examines the theme of ecological frontiers, boundaries and liminal spaces of African Speculative Fictions. These texts create spaces where Africa becomes a site for imagining new environmental futures, no longer at the periphery of geopolitics, but at a critical point for enacting change and contributing to real dialogue around environmental justice. Gilles Deleuze (1994) writes that Science Fiction is written at the ‘frontiers of our knowledge’. The thesis argues that African Speculative Fictions are a liminal site of knowledge production, allowing for boundaries and frontier spaces to be transcended into sites of exchange for transformative ecocriticism. The study investigates crossovers between ecocriticism and postcolonial discourse, and is a rare example of an interdisciplinary study which analyses the potential to use genre as method for real world ecological scenarios.


  • New Waves: African Environmental Ethics and Ocean Ecosystems (forthcoming chapter in African Environmental Ethics: A Critical Reader (ed.) Munamato Chemhuru, Springer Books


  • June 2018 : ‘Writing at the Frontiers of Knowledge: Ecocritical Frontiers in African Speculative Fictions’ Keynote presentation at Asixoxe – Let's Talk! Conference on African Philosophy, Centre of Global Studies, Prague.
  • May 2018: ‘Writing at the Frontiers of Knowledge: African Science Fiction and Planning for New Ecological Futures’ Invited Paper, Committee on Human Rights Sponsored Panel, African Literature Association Annual Conference Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, DC
  • November 2017: ‘Renegotiating the Alien: Blue ecocriticism and maritime conservation in Okorafor’s Lagoon’ Paper presented at CCLPS critical forum, SOAS University
  • September 2017 : ‘Ecology, Resistance, Scale: Ecocritical Reading in African Speculative Fiction’ Paper presented at Organic Systems: Environments, Bodies and Cultures in Science Fiction, London Science Fiction Research Community (LSFRC) Conference, Birkbeck School of Arts, London
  • June 2017: 'New Waves: Blue ecocriticism and the 'postlocal' in Okorafor’s The Book of Phoenix and Lagoon’ Paper presented at African Literature Association (ALA) Annual Conference, Yale University
  • May & June 2017: ‘African Environmental Ethics and Speculative Fictions’ Paper presented at Asixoxe –Let's Talk! Conference on African Philosophy, SOAS, University of London and Centre of Global Studies, Prague.
  • July 2016: ‘After 50 years: The Environmental Relevance of the Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol by Okot p’Bitek’ Paper presented at Africa Writes, British Library, London.
  • April 2016: ‘Eco-cosmopolitanism and the Postlocal in Okorafor’s The Book of Phoenix’ Paper presented at Asixoxe – Let's Talk! Conference on African Philosophy, SOAS, University of London


  • African Speculative Fictions (magical realism science fiction speculative genres)
  • African Philosophy and Environmental Ethics
  • African Oral and Written Literatures
  • Ecocriticism
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Anthropocene discourse


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