Frances  Hemsley

Frances Hemsley

Research Postgraduate Student

Summary: Postcolonial literature; environmental humanities; medical humanities; psychoanalysis (especially Didier Anzieu); illness and epidemiology; psychophysiology and the skin.

MA; Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures, University of Leeds

BA; English and Related Literature, University of York  

Doctoral Research 

My current research is titled: 'Postcolonial Environmentalisms and Psychoanalysis: The Ecologies of Skin'

I work across a range of contexts where environmental relations are inflected by the politics of skin. These include socio-spatial assignments in apartheid South Africa; colonial and postcolonial water annexation in Zimbabwe; industrial disease epidemiology among immigrants in early twentieth century Canada; and environmental relations in post-genocide Rwanda.

My research adjoins a psychoanalytic approach to a postcolonial environmentalist approach, using an interdisciplinary methodology to re-inflect their relation. I focus on the skin as a plastic psychical substrate materially affected by our wider environmental circumstances. My work adapts Didier Anzieu's psychoanalytic theory of the "skin ego" - the notion that the psyche constitutes itself, first and foremost, on a tactile foundation, on the skin - to postulate a materialist psyche. As such, what my project terms the "ecologies of skin" supplies a connection between the psyche and the sensate, the material self and its tactile environments: the skin is always vernacular and plural, a synthesis of biophysical and psychohistorical processes. 

This research is funded by the AHRC. 


'Non-mourning and ecocritical ethics in Véronique Tadjo's The Shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda', The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, special issue on Postcolonial Environments, eds. Veronica Barnsley, Jade Munslow Ong and Matthew Whittle, 51.2 (2016), 226-239.

'Writing as a Duty to Remember the Rwandan Genocide: An Interview with Véronique Tadjo' , Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies, (forthcoming).

Conference Papers

'"Feeling like a fish": water resources management and the ecologies of skin in Dambudzo Marechera' (The 17th Triennial of the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, 2016).

'Vernacular mourning ecologies in Véronique Tadjo's The Shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda' (Yorkshire African Studies Network, University of York, 2015).

'On inhuman environments and the seductions of reading in the apartheid context: Bessie Head's The Cardinals' (Writing for Liberty, Centre for Transcultural Writing at the University of Lancaster, 2015).

'Eco-critical ethics in Véronique Tadjo's The Shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda' (Reframing Disaster, University of Leeds, 2014).

'Human hides, animal skins: Dambudzo Marechera and Zimbabwean Environmental Policy' (Postcolonial Studies Association, University of York, 2014).

'Non-mourning and eco-critical ethics in Véronique Tadjo's The Shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda, (Postcolonial Environments, University of Manchester, 2014).

Further funding

2016, Centre for Canadian Studies, University of Leeds, Travel Award for Visits to Canada 

2016, AHRC RTSG Travel Bursary for Overseas Conference Support

2014, ASLE-UKI Postgraduate Travel Bursary