Journal Articles

Spring Summer 2004 - Vol.34/No.3-4
Paradise/Pair o’ Dice: Contradictory Characteristics, Counterindications, and the Contingencies of Environmental Justice in Real and Virtual Terrains for Tomorrow’s College Students
Author : Patrick D. Murphy
Keywords : contingency, ecoctiticism, fiction, cyberspace, environmental justice, multimodal reading
With attention to the next generation of college students, this essay argues that environmental organizations and ecocritics need to engage the contested terrain of cyberspace in terms of the ways that the World Wide Web and digital literacy are altering reading habits and individual experiences with nature. Building on the ideas of Jay David Bolter, James Paul Gee, and others, this essay claims that because of computers and computer games, the next generation will read differently and their multimodal reading will alter the way they investigate environmental issues. Multimodal reading may also increase their acceptance of contingency and their skills in problem solving. Some contemporary literature already reflects this engagement with contingency in both negative and positive depictions, such as novels by Sara Paretsky, Charles Baxter, Neal Stephenson, Barbara Kingsolver, Jonathan Lethem, and Molly Gloss, To promote environmental justice and to enhance ecological literacy, ecocritics must risk the embrace of the contingencies of the cyborg citizen, the multitasking problem solving mixed realist, and the playful fabulist.
Bodily Invasions: Gene Trading and Organ Theft in Octavia Butler and Nalo Hopkinson’s Speculative Fiction
Author : Rachel Stein
Keywords : biopiracy, organ theft/organ harvesting, gene trading/genetic manipulation, Oankali, speculative fiction, Octavia Butler, Dawn, Nalo Hopkinson, Brown Girl in the Ring, environmental justice activism, reproductive controls of women of color, colonization of black women’s bodies
Current environmental justice frameworks have demonstrated that poor and people of color communities often suffer unequal exposure to toxins, radiations and other environmental risks at home, at work, and in the surrounding locale, endangering the health of their bodies. Speculative fiction writers Octavia Butler and Nalo Hopkinson expand our view of environmental justice health issues by articulating ways in which the bodies of women of color may also be directly manipulated and harvested as environmental resources for those in power. Butler's Dawn presents the dilemma of forced gene-trading and sexual/reproductive controls and Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring portrays a murderous case of organ theft. In both novels, black female protagonists must grapple with the moral issues created by the colonization and use of women’s bodies as natural resource materialsk—extending the boundaries of our understanding of the interconnections between environmental justice, gender, and sexuality.
From Environmental Injustice to Ethnic Reconciliation: Taroke People and Taroko National Park in Taiwan
Author : Chun-Chieh Chi
Keywords : environmental justice, indigenous people, National Park, Taroko people, ethnic reconciliation, land rights, Magau National Park
Since the 19th century, capitalist expansion has increasingly penetrated into the world’s remote areas; such has also been the case in Taiwan. This paper discusses the indigenous Taroko people of Hualien County in eastern Taiwan and how their land and resource rights have been systematically exploited by the establishment of Taroko National Park. Applying an environmental justice approach, this paper subsequently investigates both human and environmental consequences of the environmental injustices done to the Taroko people. Finally, this paper examines the newly established Taroko National Park Cultural Consulting Committee. The committee was established in early 2002, with the aim of bringing reconciliation between Taroko Nationa! Park/the Taiwanese government and the Taroko people. With evidence from my field research, this paper will discuss 1) whether and to what extent the process of ethnic reconciliation has started, and 2) ways to improve this process.
Women Seeking Environmental Justice
Author : Jia-Yi Cheng-Levine
Keywords : post-colonial ecology, gender, environmental justice, Mahasweta Devi, Buchi Emetheta, J. M. Coetzee
This essay first critiques the lack of discussion on gender issues in the enviromental justice movement in the 1990s, and the danger of ignoring those issues. It then focuses on women's roles in the environmental justice movement as presented in three novels by Mahasweta Devi, Buchi Emetheta, and J. M. Coetzee. It concludes by discussing the importance for a post-colonial country to recover and cultivate a national culture that respects its land's carrying capacity.
Water Wars in Environmental Justice Discourse: Place and Identity in the Age of Globalization
Author : Jim Tarter
Keywords : globalization water politics, privatization, environmental justice, locality, place-based identity
My topic in this essay is water politics in environmental justice literature and discourse, considered within a global context and within the discourse of globalization. Looking at a handful of environmental writers—including Vandana Shiva, Leslie Marmon Silko, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Helena Maria Viramontes, and others, all of whom feature water politics in their work—I argue that although we ecocritical readers must address issues at the global level and account for globalization, these texts show that we must not lose sight of local, specific, and place-based issues in environmental justice. That is, these texts reveal a basic pattern regarding the importance of specific places or localities not only to water politics but to environmental justice discourse as a whole. Taken as a group these texts constitute a warning against the demands of simplistic globalism or globalization.
Establishing a Sense of Place: A Comparative Study of Two Ecopoets, Miyazawa Kenji and Gary Snyder
Author : Katsunori Yamazato
Keywords : Kenji Miyazawa, Gary Snyder, ecopoet, sense of place, inhabitory, reinhabitory, postcolonial, environment
This article discusses works of Kenji Miyazawa and Gary Snyder, two poets focusing on humanity's relationship with the environment. The poets attempt to establish a sense of place mainly by combining science and Buddhism. I discuss Miyazawa as an inhabitory Japanese poet and Snyder as a reinhabitory American poet, both of them addressing and deepening the concept of sense of place by making a serious commitment to the places in which they chose to live. By living rooted in a place and by establishing a deep sense of place, both Miyazawa and Snyder suggest new images of humanity and the earth. Miyazawa is a pioneer ecopoet in the context of twentieth century world literature in his attempt to represent humanity as an intricate part of the food chain. Snyder shares this vital idea with Miyazawa, and thus both poets present a new vision of humanity and our planetary future.
Gary Snyder and the Poetics of Symbiosis
Author : Robin Chen-Hsing Tsai
Keywords : ecocriticism, Mountains and Rivers Without End, Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild, eco-consciousness, Michel Serres, The Natural Contract, symbiosis, radical empiricism
Ecocriticism, an emergent literary discourse which addresses the ecological crisis, stresses the importance of transforming our ego consciousness into an eco-consciousness. If the nature writing of romantics and American transcendentalists still objectified Nature as a metaphysical absolute, recent environmental writing takes a more radically empirical perspective, beginning not from the (anthropocentric or even zoocentric) “self” but from the situation of being already-embodied, already within-nature, already dependent on the natural environment for its/our/the earth’s (mutual) survival. Thus the otherness of the surrounding environment is now seen as being central to the formation of an organism’s symbiotic identity. In a sense this otherness is also wildness, and the concept of wildness has become central to discussions of a perhaps collective eco-consciousness—a much more empirical, non-anthropocentric, “wilder” wildness than that of traditional nature writing. I will argue here that Gary Snyder's The Practice of the Wild sets forth ecological idea(ls that can shape our contemporary environmental imagination and help us to forge a “culture of wildness.” I also will interpret the Snyderian poetics of symbiosis—where symbiosis suggests the necessary and inevitable interweaving of ancient aboriginal and future high tech cultures, and of Eastern and Western thinking, as well as of organisms and environment—as a radically empirical extension of Thoreau’s and Emerson’s naturalist (and “universalist”) poetics.
Ecocentric Discourses: Problems and Future Prospects for Nature Advocacy
Author : Robyn Eckersley
Keywords : ecocentrism, environmental discourse, democracy, nature advocacy, nonanthropocentrism
In this essay, I propose to explore and take stock of the troubled evolution of certain discourses in Western environmental philosophy that seek to defend biological diversity. Varlously referred to as ecocentric or biocentric, these discourses have been in the forefront of mounting a critique of anthropocentrism or human chauvinism, philosophically defending the intrinsic value of nature and politically. defending the setting aside of large tracts of habitat along with other policy changes to ensure the flourishing of nonhuman species. Although there is considerable variety among the philosophical and ethical discourses that can be broadly described as ecocentric, they all share the conviction that the Western philosophical tradition has elevated and celebrated humanity at the expense of nonhuman nature and that this has helped to sanction the domination of nature. The quest has been to find a new moral vocabulary that includes nonhuman species in the circle’ of moral considerability, that acknowledges ecological interdependence, and that seeks new policies and laws that provide more concerted protection for nonhuman species and ecosystems.
Nature Writers Need Big Ears: The Bilby, the Rabbit, and Eco-Colonialism in Australia
Author : Liana Joy Christensen
Keywords : nature writing, bilby, rabbit, ecofeminism, ecology, rabbit-proof fence, indigenous
Fifteen years of experience as a nature writer has taught me the advantage of having big ears. You need them to listen in to the . complex babble of nature/culture conversations. To illustrate this point, I will tell the story of Australia's big-eared marsupial, the bilby, and its tragi-comic struggles with the introduced rabbit. It has elements of epic—a fence more than three thousand kilometres long built to keep rabbits out; and of farce—scientists squabbling over the most suitable candidate for an Australian fertility icon. This story draws on most of our major cultural shapers: mythology, imperialism, marketing, money, semiotics and science. I like to listen to all these competing voices, partly for the simple pleasure of story. It is vital, however, to remember that these discourses do not simply exist in the printed page or cyberspace or virtual reality. How we write and think about things has real consequences in a real world, To be truly ecological, discourse needs to be like ecology: multiple, interdependent and diverse. It also needs to be aware of its limitations. Ecological discourse can connect us with the world, but it must not be mistaken for the world. That is the second, more serious, meaning to my title. Nature writers need big ears, we need bilbies, we need the scorching sun of the Western Desert, the red pindan earth, the sharp spinifex. We need nature. And it is part of our job to make meanings that celebrate and fight for its diversity.
Ecological Readings of Juvenile Fiction: Where Ecofeminist Theory and Children’s Literature Meet
Author : Shu-Fen Tsai
Keywords : ecocriticism, ecofeminism, nature, writing, children’s literature, young adult fiction, fantasy, myth, animal
The urgent global environmental crisis has demanded that human beings reconsider their relationship with the natural world. Western symbolic discourses, according to ecofeminist literary critics, have distorted the subjectivity of nature, relegating it to being no more than the claims of humans. Ecofeminist literary theory attempts to formulate a new aesthetics and to experiment with a new language that will respect the nonhuman world as independent subjects. This paper attempts to apply such ecological feminist concepts to the study of the animal and natural presences in children’s literature. The main purpose is to discover outstanding “green” juvenile fictions whose nature-oriented dimensions have not received due critical attention.