Son[i]a #372 – Sarah Nuttall
Sarah Nuttall is a South African scholar and the director of the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Over the past 10 years, her work has focused on post-colonial criticism, urban theory and literary and cultural studies, especially in relation to Africa and its diasporas. Her current area of interest revolves around water, heavy rainfall, flooding and hydrocolonialism, and how they intersect with materiality, time and daily life. But also around how water can be traced and analysed across works of literary fiction from the African continent. ‘Pluviality’, the umbrella term she coined for this purpose, serves as a conceptual framework and a methodological approach to her study of rain in an era of extreme climate emergency. The idea is to try and understand rain and water not just as weather phenomena, but as part of entire epistemologies and spiritualities, in which the human and more-than-human worlds overlap.
We talk to Sarah Nuttall about hydropolitics in the Global South, about entanglement, multi-spirited waters, and the elemental. We also go into extrapolative science fiction as prefigurative social theory, finding the right language and asking the right questions.