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Postcolonial Green

Postcolonial Green: Environmental Politics and World Narratives

Bonnie Roos
Alex Hunt
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Postcolonial Green
    Book Description:

    Postcolonial Greenbrings together scholarship bridging ecocriticism and postcolonialism. Since its inception, ecocriticism has been accused of being inattentive to the complexities that colonialism poses for ideas of nature and environmentalism. Postcolonial discourse, on the other hand, has been so immersed in theoretical questions of nationalism and identity that it has been seen as ignoring environmental or ecological concerns. This collection demonstrates that ecocriticism and postcolonialism must be understood as parallel projects if not facets of the very same project-a struggle for global justice and sustainability.

    The essays in this collection span the globe, and cover such issues as international environmental policy, land and water rights, food production, poverty, women's rights, indigenous activism, and ecotourism. They consider all manner of texts, from oral tradition to literary fiction to web discourse. Contributors bring postcolonial theory to literary traditions, such as that of the United States, not typically seen in this light, and, conversely, bring ecocriticism to literary traditions, such as those of India and China, that have seen little ecological analysis. Postcolonial Green boasts a global geographical breadth, diversity of critical approach, and increasing relevance to the issues we face on a world stage.


    Neel Ahuja, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill * Pavel Cenkl, Sterling College * Sharae Deckard, University College Dublin * Ursula K. Heise, Stanford University * Jonathan Highfield, Rhode Island School of Design * Alex Hunt, West Texas A&M University * Upamanyu Pablo Mukherjee, Warwick University * Patrick D. Murphy, University of Central Florida * Bonnie Roos, West Texas A&M University * Caskey Russell, University of Wyoming * Rachel Stein, Siena College * Sabine Wilke, University of Washington * Laura Wright, Western Carolina University * Sheng-yen Yu, National Taipei University of Technology * Gang Yue, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill/Xiamen University

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3065-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  4. Introduction Narratives of Survival, Sustainability, and Justice
    (pp. 1-14)

    A recent television recruiting advertisement for the U.S. Navy calls viewers’ attention to the 2004 tsunami: 225,000 people were killed in eleven affected countries, with a million more left missing and homeless in a single day. Worst hit was Indonesia, where 130,736 were confirmed dead, and over 500,000 were displaced. Over the image of a giant wave crashing down on the camera, we hear the narration: “December 26 2004, 7:59 a.m.: The sea delivers untold devastation to a huge area of Southeast Asia.” As fast-approaching navy helicopters race over these same waters carrying emergency supplies, the narrator adds, “Soon after,...


    • Arundhati Roy Environment and Uneven Form
      (pp. 17-31)

      For most critics and commentators, the phenomenal global success of Arundhati Roy’s Booker Prize–winning debut novel,The God of Small Things, is largely due to Roy’s deft use of literary style that spins a moving tale of lost childhood innocence and doomed love. As a result, “Roy the author” is frequently seen as a different creature to “Roy the activist,” who is perhaps best known for her flamboyant and committed opposition to the Narmada Dam project in the Indian states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.¹ Roy herself, however, in numerous interviews and essays, has expressed her irritation with this...

    • Jungle Tide, Devouring Reef (Post)colonial Anxiety and Ecocritique in Sri Lankan Literature
      (pp. 32-48)

      Within the developing field of postcolonial ecocriticism, critics are increasingly exploring the efficacy of postcolonial literatures and literary criticism to formulate resistive discourses to the economic dispossession, social injustice, and environmental degradation resulting from the continuing forms of colonialism and processes of exploitative global development across the world (Campbell 1). The “converging critique” of materialist and ecologist ideologies draws on Herbert Marcuse’s idea of a revolution that would radically transform not only society but also the relation between man and nature (59–78). It carries through Raymond Williams’s statement of the need for a “green socialism” combining ecology and economics...

    • Fragments of Shangri-La “Eco-Tibet” and Its Global Circuits
      (pp. 49-63)
      GANG YUE

      In a picture I took in summer 2003, a Tibetan monk wears a Nirvana T-shirt, featuring the grunge icon Kurt Cobain. I met the monk in a small village in southeastern Tibet, off the beaten track of commercial tourism in a two-day’s drive from Lhasa. This area is close to the disputed border with India—the McMahon Line named after Sir Henry McMahon, foreign secretary of British India. In 1913 an arbitrary line was drawn in the sand—or along the crest of the Himalayas in this case, and overnight the Tibetan-speaking peoples on the south of the boundary became...

    • Diggers, Strangers, and Broken Men Environmental Prophecy and the Commodification of Nature in Keri Hulme’s The Bone People
      (pp. 64-80)

      Late inThe Bone People(first published in 1985), New Zealand author Keri Hulme’s only novel to date, the Maori elder Tiaki Mira imparts a prophecy that requires that he “wait until the stranger came home or until the digger began planting, or until the broken man was found and healed” (360) before he can die. The fictional fulfillment of this prophecy at the end of the novel is achieved when the three protagonists, Kerewin, Joe, and Simon—previously separated from one another through acts of violence—come together to reinvent and reinterpret the concept of family and, in so...


    • “Ravaging the Earth, Wasting Our Patrimony” Excess Hunting, Landscape Depletion, and Environmental Apocalypticism in J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians
      (pp. 83-101)

      When debating Michel Foucault on Dutch television in 1971, Noam Chomsky observed that intellectuals need to take up two tasks to deal with class power: one is to envision “a future just society,” or, more precisely, to create “a humanistic social theory” predicated on “some firm and humane concept of the human essence or human nature”; the other is to cognize the nature of power, oppression, terror, and destruction in our own society, including that in “the economic, commercial, and financial institutions,” in, as Foucault mentioned, “the administration, the police, the army, and the apparatus of the state,” and in...

    • “Relations with Food” Agriculture, Colonialism, and Foodways in the Writing of Bessie Head
      (pp. 102-117)

      In much of the criticism about Bessie Head, her writing is linked to agriculture. Coreen Brown notes that agricultural work in her novels “becomes the means to establish shared aspirations” (38); Craig Mac- Kenzie writes that gardening provided “Head with a therapeutic activity that proved critical to her psychological survival” (27); Anissa Talahite writes that the garden in Head’s work serves as “a metaphor for finding a hybrid space for cross-cultural connections to take place” (144); and Gillian Stead Eilersen’s biography of the exiled writer has chapters entitled “Putting Down Roots” and “Ripping up the Young Plant,” metaphorically linking periods...

    • Rhetorics of Endangerment Cultural Difference and Development in International Ape Conservation Discourse
      (pp. 118-134)

      The Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP)—a United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) partnership that includes twenty-three Great Ape range states, donor countries, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private sector organizations—unveiled its first educational exhibit at the Uganda National Museum in Kampala on 28 June 2006. As part of the exhibit, text and image displays prepared by UNESCO and France’s Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle undertook two rhetorical strategies in promoting the conservation of Uganda’s eastern chimpanzees and mountain gorillas. The first stressed the economic threats that hunting, disease, deforestation, and agricultural pest control pose to endangered apes, as well as the...


    • Narrative Currency in a Changing Climate Grounding the Arctic amid Shifting Terrain
      (pp. 137-156)

      In late May, after having spent the latter half of a two-week field course camping out in the worst spring weather Iceland had experienced in years, my students and I found ourselves in a subterranean museum some four meters below street level in downtown Reykjavík, walking through a recently completed exhibit of Iceland’s oldest identified longhouse. In the center of a dramatically dark and multimedia-enhanced exhibit hall, a seventeen-meter oval of stones and turf wall remnants outlines the structure that archaeologists have accurately dated to within two years of the eruption of Vatnaoldur in the year ad 871. The exhibit’s...

    • Wild Madness The Makah Whale Hunt and Its Aftermath
      (pp. 157-176)

      On May 17, 1999, the Makah Indians successfully hunted, harpooned, and shot a gray whale off the coast of their reservation in Washington State. For the Makah, the taking of the whale culminated five years of a public relations battle that began after the Makah petitioned the U.S. government to restore their treaty right to harvest whales, a right reserved to the Makah by the 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay. The gray whale had been taken off the U.S. endangered species list in 1994, and the U.S. government and International Whaling Commission approved the Makah’s request. The decision to uphold...

    • Bad Seed Imperiled Biological and Social Diversity in Ruth Ozeki’s All Over Creation
      (pp. 177-194)

      Expanding upon the politics of food and gender that she explored in her first novelMy Year of Meats, Ruth Ozeki’s second novelAll Over Creationrepresents overlapping struggles for biodiversity and social diversity, as transnational corporate enforcement of agricultural monocultures and biogenetic control of plant regeneration at the turn of the twenty-first century reinforces racial monoculture as well as patriarchal controls of women’s sexuality and reproduction.¹ AlthoughAll Over Creationis set in the United States, Ozeki describes battles for food democracy and for sexual and reproductive justice that reflect global neocolonial power relations, which are reinforced when transnational,...


    • Performing Tropics Alexander von Humboldt’s Ansichten der Natur and the Colonial Roots of Nature Writing
      (pp. 197-212)

      In their essay “Performing the Wild: Rethinking Wilderness and Theater Spaces” Adam Sweeting and Thomas C. Crochunis examine the conventions of the realist stage and the rules of designated wilderness zones. They “find parallels that reveal how carefully constructed human performances are essential to both kinds of spaces” (325). Both the realist stage and the designated wilderness area “rely on rigidly dualistic conceptualizations of space” (326). Both encourage “audiences or wilderness visitors to observe events as though they simply unfold on their own” (326). The analogy between realist stage conventions and the idea of nature as performative, they argue, makes...

    • The Poetic Politics of Ecological Inhabitation in Neruda’s Canto General and Cardenal’s Cosmic Canticle
      (pp. 213-228)

      Pablo Neruda’s Canto General and Ernesto Cardenal’s Cosmic Canticle are widely regarded as two of the greatest long poems of the Americas written in the twentieth century. In each book-length sequence, the author thematically develops the relationship of people to place and peoples to environment. These two poets are sharply aware that in all cases the people who become citizens of a particular place do not necessarily be come inhabitants and that one does not equal the other. This recognition and the solutions proposed by each poet become particularly important in a postcolonial context given that the countries from which...

    • Rewriting Eden in Walcott’s Omeros A Sea Change of Stories in Visible Silence
      (pp. 229-250)

      Derek Walcott’s high-profile protests against the building of the Jalousie Hilton Resort and Spa that halted local people’s access to the Pitons— peaks surrounded by the island’s largest and most spectacular wilderness areas—resulted in criticism against the Nobel Laureate for being out of touch with St. Lucia’s working-class need for increased employment opportunities.¹ Such current debates between the “intelligentsia” and the “masses” are usefully framed within the modernist debates about the advantages and disadvantages of narrative realism. Whereas realism, according to theorists like Georg Lukács, promoted the raising of consciousness by making people aware of social (class) inequities, Bertolt...

    • Afterword Postcolonial Ecocriticism and the Question of Literature
      (pp. 251-258)

      In the first book-length introduction to ecocriticism, published in 2004, British scholar Greg Garrard argued that one of the two crucial challenges confronting this rapidly evolving area of studies is “the relationship between globalisation and ecocriticism, which has barely been broached” (178). The attempt to link environmental and postcolonial literary studies that gave rise to this volume forms part of the answer to this challenge, the project of broadening ecocriticism’s scope from the U.S.-Americanist focus that shaped it during its first decade to a more international spectrum of works and theoretical perspectives. Undoubtedly, this shift of emphasis has in part...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 259-280)
  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 281-284)
  11. Index
    (pp. 285-302)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 303-303)