Profile | Jonathan Bishop Highfield

Jonathan Highfield




Jonathan Bishop Highfield is Professor of Literary Arts and Studies at Rhode Island School of Design. He is the author of Imagined Topographies: From Colonial Resource to Postcolonial Homeland (Peter Lang, 2012). His research looks at the intersection of ecocriticism and foodways. Recent publications include “Obscured by History: Language, Culture, and Conflict in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun” in Critical Insights: Cultural Encounters (Salem Press, 2012), “No Longer Praying on Borrowed Wine: Agroforesty and Food Sovereignty in Ben Okri’s Famished Road Cycle” in Environment at the Margins: Literary and Environmental Studies in Africa (Ohio University Press, 2011), and “‘Relations with Food’: Agriculture, Colonialism, and Foodways in the Writing of Bessie Head” in Postcolonial Green: Environmental Politics and World Narratives (University of Virginia Press, 2010). He is also the co-editor (with Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang and Dora Edu Buandoh) of The State of the Art(s): African Studies and American Studies in Comparative Perspective (Afram Publications 2006).





The Scent of Zanzibar


A book-length project on food and foodways in African literature.


Here is some baobab leaf!

Forthcoming 2015

“‘Here is some baobab leaf!’: Sunjata, foodways and biopiracy” in The Natures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms. Fiona Moola, editor. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.


Movie Snaps Symposium

October 2015

Panel member on symposium on Movie Snaps, a film by Siona O’Connell at Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, October 2015. Movie Snaps looks at how photography became racialized during the apartheid era as a result of the Population Registration Act, which required every South African to be racially classified.


Imagined Topographies: From Colonial Resource to Postcolonial Homeland 

Bern: Peter Lang, 2012.

One important legacy of colonialism is the separation of a culture from the land upon which its people live. Populations are displaced; topographical objects are renamed, and the land becomes a resource to be exploited. Starting with three landscapes viewed as threatening by the Europeans who colonized them, Imagined Topographies examines the ways artists, writers, and musicians distill new meaning in formerly colonized spaces through the articulation of landscapes that are homelands, not commodities.


Art and Activism


“Art and Activism,” a workshop with Richard Ross, author of Architecture of Authority, Juveniles In Justice, and Girls In Justice, February, 2015.


Dialogue Across the Diaspora: Haiti, South Africa, Art, and Narratives of Resistance

RISD Seminar Course

Fall 2013

Dialogue Across the Diaspora looked at slavery and its repercussions in Rhode Island, Haiti, and South Africa. In November, the class visited Cape Town and installed an exhibit in the Slave Lodge Museum in collaboration with Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT, and Brown University.

The course culminated in the exhibition Unearthing Legacy in the Red Eye Gallery, January, 2014.



Contact Jonathan Bishop Highfield