Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment

Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment

Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment

Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment


The first edited collection to bring ecocritical studies into a necessary dialogue with postcolonial literature, this volume offers rich and suggestive ways to explore the relationship between humans and nature around the globe, drawing from texts from Africa and the Caribbean, as well as the Pacific Islands and South Asia. Turning to contemporary works by both well- and little-known postcolonial writers, the diverse contributions highlight the literary imagination as crucial to representing what Eduoard Glissant calls the "aesthetics of the earth." The essays are organized around a group of thematic concerns that engage culture and cultivation, arboriculture and deforestation, the lives of animals, and the relationship between the military and the tourist industry. With chapters that address works by J. M. Coetzee, Kiran Desai, Derek Walcott, Alejo Carpentier, Zakes Mda, and many others, Postcolonial Ecologies makes a remarkable contribution to rethinking the role of the humanities in addressing global environmental issues.


Elizabeth DeLoughrey and George B. Handley

For a colonized people the most essential value, because the most
concrete, is first and foremost the land: the land which will bring
them bread and, above all, dignity.

Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 9

If there is anything that radically distinguishes the imagination of
anti-imperialism, it is the primacy of the geographical in it. Imperi
alism after all is an act of geographical violence through which virtu
ally every space in the world is explored, charted, and finally brought
under control. For the native, the history of colonial servitude is
inaugurated by the loss of locality to the outsider; its geographical
identity must thereafter be searched for and somehow restored….
Because of the presence of the colonizing outsider, the land is recov
erable at first only through imagination.

Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism, 77

Writing in 1961 at the tail end of the Algerian War of Independence, Martinican author Franz Fanon identified the land as a primary site of postcolonial recuperation, sustainability, and dignity. A generation later, the Palestinian scholar Edward Said argued that the imagination was vitalto liberating land from the restrictions of colonialism and, we might add, from neocolonial forms of globalization. Here Said framed postcolonial writing ecologically, positioning it as a process of recovery, identification, and historical mythmaking “enabled by the land” (78). While he . . .

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