Idwi, Xenopus laevis, and African clawed frog: Teaching counternarratives of invasive species in postcolonial ecology


This article presents a Pedagogical Framework for Invasive Species to shift how we understand, teach, and study invasive species, especially when people are responsible for their expansion into new ecosystems. The focus is on a species originating from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that humans extracted and introduced in certain regions of the Americas, Europe, and Asia: Xenopus laevis, African Clawed Frog, or Idwi in the Zulu language. This article re-introduces the frog Idwi through lenses of de/post-colonial theory, Indigenous studies, and Critical Race Theory to create counternarratives. Through a popular press analysis, the article uncovers how humans in colonial contexts extracted species from de/colonizing spaces to export to other regions of the world. When the frogs were profitable, the entrepreneurs who exported them were valorized. However, once seen as invasive, frogs were targeted with xenophobic projections. This article foregrounds counternarratives that challenge and critique universal application of the “invasive species” label.

The Journal of Environmental Education, 53(2)