Interdisciplinary Connections seminar series (Autumn): Eco-noir, environmental crime and Esther Figueroa’s Limbo

Posted by jcm22 at Oct 02, 2018 10:50 AM |
12 December 2018 - Esther Figueroa’s Limbo (2014) depicts a contemporary Jamaica damaged by various forms of environmental harm. Drawing on debates in green criminology and postcolonial ecocriticism, this paper will position Figueroa’s novel within the emerging crime fiction tradition of eco-noir.


Date: 12 December 2018
Time: 12noon - 1pm
Location: Attenborough Second Floor LR 206

Contact: Lucy Evans


Esther Figueroa’s Limbo (2014) portrays a contemporary Jamaica damaged by various forms of environmental harm which threaten the island’s future. The devastating effects of tourism and resource extraction, including coral reef destruction, beach erosion, deforestation, toxic waste, and water and air pollution, are framed in the novel as criminal acts concealed and protected by state and corporate interests. Featuring dons and gunmen operating alongside and in collaboration with developers and politicians, the novel presents eco-crime, state-corporate crime and organised crime as overlapping, emphasising the fine line between ‘legitimate’ government and business enterprises and criminal activity; as a blacklisted lawyer character puts it, ‘[i]t’s a very frothy mix of organized crime and unorganized, or should we say disorganized, crime’.

Drawing on definitions of eco-crime in the field of green criminology as well as postcolonial ecocritical approaches to environmental justice, this paper considers how the novel’s form contributes to the ways in which it conceptualises and responds to eco-crime in Jamaica. I look at how the novel both references and adapts the conventions of classic noir and feminist hardboiled detective fiction. In addition, engaging with Timothy Morton’s notion of ‘dark ecology’ and Rob Nixon’s ideas on the representational challenge of slow violence, I position Limbo within the emerging crime fiction tradition of eco-noir. I argue that Figueroa’s darkly satirical novel extends and nuances definitions of both eco-noir and eco-crime, and in doing so demonstrates the potential of this crime fiction sub-genre to intervene in wider debates on environmental crisis and ecological futures in the Caribbean and beyond.

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