Watershed Colonialism and Popular Geographies of North American Rivers,” Open Rivers 8 (Fall 2017): 12-28.


“Maintaining Colonialism: A Dam Strategy,” Cultural Studies Association Annual Conference, Georgetown University, May 25-27, 2017.

“Rivers of America,” Water and the Making of Place in North America, Princeton University, October 14., 2016.

“‘Can We Afford Life Itself?’: Environmental Justice and River Restoration,” French Association of American Studies in Toulouse, France, May 24-27, 2016.

“Rivers Seen and Unseen,” Land and Water: A Long-Term Perspective, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University, September 4-5, 2015.

“River Landscapes and the Iconography of Climate Change,” Association for Cultural Studies Crossroads Conference, Tampere, Finland, July 1-4, 2014.

“Re-Envisioning the Life and Death of American Rivers,” American Historical Association Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, January 2-5, 2014.

“The Changing Shape of the Los Angeles River Flow and its Fluidity,” Western History Association Annual Conference, Tucson, Arizona, October 9-12, 2013.

“We’ve Known Rivers,” Association for Cultural Studies Crossroads Conference, Paris, France, July 2-6, 2012.



Environment in Debt,” Social Text Periscope: Going Into Debt (September 2011) with responses by David Graeber and Richard Dienst.

Selection from David Graeber’s Comments on the Social Text Debt Dossier:

“Sigma Colón’s essay on environmental debt poses the most troubling paradox of all. It is perhaps the ultimate example of the moral perils of the need to adopt the enemy’s language. The planet is being destroyed. Does one really have a choice but to use all weapons at one’s disposal? Yet in order to frame the matter in the financial language that those destroying it are capable of understanding, that makes moral sense to them–even if only to begin a process of subtly transforming the very meaning of that language–one has to begin by pretending that they–that human beings in general–are not ourselves part of the planet and its ecosystems. Since how could we enter into commercial relations, calculate debts and credits, with Everything (an Everything that includes ourselves.)”

Selection from Richard Dienst’s Comments on the Social Text Debt Dossier:

“A second approach can be seen in the essays by Sigma Colón and Monica Muñoz Martinez, where the concept is debt is being asked to do new things. I read these arguments as a kind of thought experiment: what happens when we try to think about environmental destruction and state violence within the narrow framework of debts? In both cases, we want to see what happens when something that is ordinarily thought to stand outside the domain of economic calculation–“nature” and “justice”–is submitted to its logic. Sooner or later, we run up against a limit: there is no way that the real costs of resource extraction or state crime can be reckoned by the system. The point of the experiment is to not to wish that economic calculation could be tweaked to accommodate such considerations, but instead to take the next step and refuse to accept the various forms of remuneration and indemnity on offer as just so many ruses to preserve the authority of money as the ultimate measure of value.”


“Going into Debt,” Yale Working Group on Globalization and Culture, Left Forum, Pace University, New York, March 18-20, 2011.

“Environment in Debt,” International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy, Istanbul, Turkey, May 20-22, 2011.

Borders & Borderlands


Sigma Colón, Thelma Jiménez-Anglada, and Jesús G. Smith, “The Racial Politics of Emotion: Teaching An Interdisciplinary Border Institute in the Midwest,” Humanity & Society 45:2 (2021): 146-181.


“Currents and Currencies: Mojados Moving Against the Current,” Critical Encounters: Conversations in American Studies, Yale Working Group on Globalization and Culture, Yale University, April 24, 2015.

“Wetback: Coming to Terms with Mexico-U.S. River Crossings,” American Society for Ethnohistory Annual Meeting, New Orleans, September 11-14, 2013.

“Local Memories and Dreams on the Periphery of National Landscapes: Naco, Arizona and Naco, Sonora,” Arizona History Convention, Prescott, Arizona, April 23-26, 2009.

“‘El Dia de la Esperanza’ and Other Accounts of Progress in Naco,” Center for Latin American Studies Tinker Symposium, University of Arizona, October 30, 2008.

“‘If you like biodiversity, then you might like prairie dogs,’ and Other Reckonings about Restoration in the Borderlands,” with Katherine Morrissey and Neil Prendergast, University of Arizona, Department of History Brown Bag Series, September 2007.

Climate Justice


“Climate Change and the Caribbean,” public talk sponsored by the Caribbean Support Group, Lawrence University, October 30, 2017.

Invasive Species


Occupying Nature: Fishing for Meaning in the Asian Carp,” Transforming Anthropology 22:1 (April 2014)

Selection from Yousuf Al-Bulushi’s introductory comments to the special issue of Transforming Anthropology, “Spaces and Times of Occupation”:

“Sigma Colón forces us to think about the links between the workplace as a site for doing battle and the broader environment. In other parlance, she raises the question of how to tie together the “red” and “green” politics of the labor and environmental movements, respectively. In decentering an all too-often anthropocentric conversation about crisis, Colon asks why the problem of species invasions—in her case, the example of the “Asian” carp occupying the river systems throughout the United States—is tied to specific imaginations of racialized geographies. Just think of the older, but more obvious, case of the purportedly more aggressive “Africanized killer bees” invading the United States from Mexico. And although Colon does not raise the issue directly in her piece, she leaves us with the lingering question about the generalized xenophobia that has emerged in the wake of the anti-austerity struggles in Europe and the inability of the Occupy Wall Street movement to forge lasting ties with the prior immigrants rights movement in the United States (an important part of the pre-2011 genealogy of the American Left that Hannon traces for us).”


“Fishing for Meaning in the Asian Carp Occupation of Nature,” Left Forum, Pace University, New York, June 7-9, 2013.

“Spaces and Times of Occupation,” Critical Encounters: Conversations in American Studies, Yale Working Group on Globalization and Culture, Yale University, April 24, 2013.