Tag Archives: Postcolonialism

Byron Caminero-Santangelo at Stellenbosch University (4 September)

Please take note that Byron Caminero-Santangelo will give a talk at the Department of English at Stellenbosch University on 4 September. The topic is “Different Shades of Green: African Literature, Environmental Justice, and Political Ecology.”

Contact Louise Green for more information.

 

Byron Caminero-Santangelo is an associate professor at the University of Kansas. He is coeditor, with Garth Meyers, of Environment at the Margins: Literary and Environmental Studies in Africa (University of Ohio Press, 2011) and author of African Fiction and Joseph Conrad: Reading Postcolonial Intertextuality (SUNY Press, 2005). Some of his recent articles include “Different Shades of Green: Ecocriticism and African Literature,” African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory (Blackwell, 2007); “Of Freedom and Oil: Nation, Globalization, and Civil Liberties in the Writing of Ken Saro-Wiwa,” Research in English and American Literature (2006).

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For a comprehensive list of his publications, click here for a link to the website of the English Department at Kansas University.

 

Petrie Meyer on Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide

Selling Nature to Humanists and Humanity to Environmentalists: Existence and Co-existence  in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide

Petrie Meyer, University of Stellenbosch

Smile O voluptuous cool-breath’d earth!

Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees!

Earth of departed sunset—earth of the mountains misty-topt!

Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue!

Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river!

Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake!

Far-swooping elbow’d earth—rich apple-blossom’d earth!

Smile, for your lover comes.

-Walt Whitman – Song of Myself

The indeterminate, fluid space of the Sundarbans in southern Bangladesh, where land and sea constantly yield to each other in a daily, elemental cycle, is the space Amitav Ghosh chooses to situate his 2005 novel, The Hungry Tide. This river delta, consisting of innumerable islands which appear and disappear according to the whims of tides and seasons, “a terrain where the boundaries between land and water are always mutating, always unpredictable” (18), is a landscape in which the sea, the river, the land, humans and animals all co-exist – sometimes in harmony, but often in competition. Within this space Ghosh, with the same beautiful sensitivity and balance with which he brings together cultures in An Antique Land, presents an environmental issue which has come to be recognized as one of the fundamental problem areas in conservationism – an issue Robert Cribb calls the “acute conflict” between conservation and human rights (Huggan and Tiffin, 4). In this conflict, a battle line has come to be been drawn between environmentally conscious groups fighting on the side of non-human nature, and human-rights groups on the side of the poor, the dispossessed and underdeveloped peoples of the world, with precious little middle ground  being acknowledged by either side. The Hungry Tide, with its complex mixture of people and landscape, steps into this conflict with an implied plea for moderation to both sides – a plea for the acknowledgement and understanding of the plight of the poor by environmentalists, and that of animals and nature by human-rights groups. To achieve this, Ghosh uses human history, human relationships and the desperation of human survival in a hostile natural environment to highlight the ‘humane’ in humanity and remind environmentalists of their own human nature, and myth and descriptions of the landscape, together with the plight of the endangered Ganges dolphin and tiger, to highlight the elemental, beautiful and fragile in Nature, in that way reaching out to the innate sense of connection that humans have with nature.

Continue reading Petrie Meyer on Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide

Second reading – Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (25 September 2012)

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“The violence wrought by climate change, toxic drift, deforestation, oil spills, and the environmental aftermath of war takes place gradually and often invisibly. Using the innovative concept of “slow violence” to describe these threats, Rob Nixon focuses on the inattention we have paid to the attritional lethality of many environmental crises, in contrast with the sensational, spectacle-driven messaging that impels public activism today. Slow violence, because it is so readily ignored by a hard-charging capitalism, exacerbates the vulnerability of ecosystems and of people who are poor, disempowered, and often involuntarily displaced, while fueling social conflicts that arise from desperation as life-sustaining conditions erode.

In a book of extraordinary scope, Nixon examines a cluster of writer-activists affiliated with the environmentalism of the poor in the global South. By approaching environmental justice literature from this transnational perspective, he exposes the limitations of the national and local frames that dominate environmental writing. And by skillfully illuminating the strategies these writer-activists deploy to give dramatic visibility to environmental emergencies, Nixon invites his readers to engage with some of the most pressing challenges of our time.”

Source: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674049307