his essay on travelling gardens of (post)colonial time opens with two iconic images of floating gardens in contemporary postcolonial literature: Will Phantom’s bio-garbage rafter, which saves him in the midst of a cyclone in Carpentaria (2008), by the Aboriginal author Alexis Wright, and Pi’s carnivore island-organism in Life of Pi (2001), which cannot save him from his shipwreck, by Canadian writer Yan Martel. These floating, hybrid gardens of the Anthropocene precede the real travelling gardens of both Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table (2011) and Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy (2008-2015), two authors who both indirectly and directly tell the story of botanical gardens in Asia, and of plant and seed smuggling and transplantation (“displacement”) also hinting at their historical and economic colonial implications. For, after all, botanical gardens imply a very specific version of care, Cura (Robert Pogue Harrison 2009), while embodying a precise, imperial scientific and economic project (Brockway 2002; Johnson 2011).
Postcolonial ecocriticism has emerged gradually over the last couple of decades as the differences between postcolonialism and environmentalism have been overcome. Those differences have centred on an assumed conflict in the way the two discourses see the world. However, the colonial roots of environmental degradation and the growing postcolonial critique of the effects of imperialism have seen a growing alliance focused in the discipline of postcolonial ecocriticism. Postcolonial critique and environmentalism have found common interest in the role of imperialism and capitalism in the rapidly degrading anthropocene. However critique has not often led to a clear vision of a possible world. This paper suggests a new alliance – between postcolonial critique, environmentalism and utopianism – one that emerges from the postcolonial realisation the no transformation can occur without the hope inspired by a vision of the future. The paper asks what literature can do in an environmental struggle in which colonized peoples environmental struggle in which colonized peoples are among the worst affected. The role of postcolonial literature provides a model for the transformative function of the creative spirit in political resistance. No true resistance can succeed without a vision of change and literature provides the most powerful location of that vision – no transformation can occur unless it is first imagined.
'The first decades of the twenty-first century have been beset by troubling social realities: coalition warfare, global terrorism and financial crisis, climate change, epidemics of family violence, violence toward women, addiction, neo-colonialism, continuing racial and religious conflict. While traumas involving large-scale or historical violence are widely represented in trauma theory, familial trauma is still largely considered a private matter, associated with personal failure. This book contributes to the emerging field of feminist trauma theory by bringing focus to works that contest this tendency, offering new understandings of the significance of the literary testimony and its relationship to broader society.
'The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma adopts an interdisciplinary approach in examining how the literary testimony of familial transgenerational trauma, with its affective and relational contagion, illuminates transmissive cycles of trauma that have consequences across cultures and generations. It offers bold and insightful readings of works that explore those consequences in story-Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006), Hélène Cixous's Hyperdream (2009), Marguerite Duras's The Lover (1992), Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy (1999), and Alexis Wright's Carpentaria (2006) and The Swan Book (2013), concluding that such testimony constitutes a fundamentally feminist experiment and encounter. The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma challenges the casting of familial trauma in ahistorical terms, and affirms both trauma and writing as social forces of political import.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'Charlotte Brontë was 12 and Charles Dickens 18 in October 1830 when Captain Patrick Logan, third commandant of the Moreton Bay penal settlement, was murdered by a person or persons unknown, his decomposing body discovered in hilly country behind Brisbane Town more than a week after his disappearance. All the signs were of ambush and desperate flight, and Logan’s body showed the marks of Aboriginal weapons.' (Introduction)
'Doris Bachmann-Medick maintains that the period since the 1970s has seen a series of “cultural turns”, that is, theoretical and cultural reorientations, which have “shifted perspectives, introduced new focuses and, as a result, opened previously unexamined cross-disciplinary fields of inquiry” (1). One such turn is the constitution of the postcolonial theory of culture, which has “shed light on the power of hegemonic cultures to shape discourse while illuminating the increasingly autonomous self-representation of previously marginalized societies, ethnic groups and literatures” (Bachmann-Medick 132).' (Introduction)
Wright describes what drove her to write her novel Carpentaria, stating that 'For a long time while I was exploring how to write Carpentaria, I tried to come to some understanding of two principal questions: firstly, how to understand the idea of Indigenous people living with the stories of all the times of this country, and secondly, how to write from this perspective.'
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