Keynote Speaker: Dr. Isabel Castro Vázquez
Professor of Foreign Languages and Iberian Studies
Dr. Castro Vazquez fields of expertise are Galician and Iberian studies, Climate Change and Global Warming, Human Rights and Minority studies. Her talk will be about “The Ecology of Words: Literary Activism”
This is a summary:
One of the most vocal literary voices for human rights and ecology is arguably that of Manuel Rivas, a European writer who chooses to create his works in a minority language from the north-west of Spain: Galician. Günter Grass, Nobel Prize in Literature, stated that he learned more about the Spanish Civil War from reading Rivas’s short novel The carpenter’s pencil than from any history book. The Spanish Civil War is the beginning of the Second World War and the Holocaust. But Rivas, like other European writers, does not dwell in the past for pasts sake, he reviews it to shed light on the present, to fight the desmemoria, the “unmemory” or “removal of memory”. His eclectic voice denounces the violations of human rights during the 1930s and 40s in Europe and his books root present issues in history.
How are these writings advocating for human rights and ecology? What strategies are used? Why is an ecological critical framework the most effective? The same power struggles from the past are bringing up new challenges in the present: human rights violations are directly related to the abuse of animals and nature. Manuel Rivas understands that writing is committing. His activist voice and his craft bring up awareness to Europe and to the world.
Establishing those connections paints a more complete picture of what we are up against.