Date of Award

8-9-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

James M. Cahalan, Ph. D.

Second Advisor

Susan Comfort, Ph. D.

Third Advisor

Christopher Orchard, Ph. D.

Abstract

In this dissertation, I examine how Wendell Berry, Leslie Marmon Silko, Linda Hogan, Arundhati Roy, Mahasweta Devi, and Abdelrahman Munif have made connections between socio-cultural and economic subtexts and environmental deterioration. These authors suggest that those who are connected to the earth—those who have the color of the earth—are still at the bottom of the sociopolitical ladder. These writers’ contested terrains are not solipsistic, but ecologically far-reaching. They draw attention to imminent perils enshrouding the earth if the same reductive, dichotomous, and capitalist paradigms persist. I postulate that the culture-nature, man-woman, modernity-tradition, and developed-underdeveloped polarizations constitute the locus of ecological degradation. These separations have pigeonholed the latter component of the dyad into the realm of the irrational, uncivilized, or unlawful, legitimating violence against it. I critique these superimposed divisions, for they entail hegemonic, “assimilative” impulses and discourses, arguing that “subaltern” subjects are always caught up in subordinate power relations, and thus the knowledge they produce will be valued and devaluated vis-à-vis Western standards. I address the intrinsic, interlocking undertones of many kinds of oppression, as they originate from the same will to power and domination. Hence, I explore the ways in which Western-style modernity and “development”—embedded in imperialist and global capitalist dynamics of co-optation and appropriation of assets, privatization of the “commons,” and exploitation of the indigenous land and people—have denigrated land and its inhabitants, mainly women, people of color, indigenous communities, and minority groups, who become signifiers of dispossession and eco-resistance. Throughout this dissertation, I essentially apply ecofeminist and environmental-justice approaches, but also refer to theories of postcolonialism, global capitalism, and deep ecology, as they are all intertwined through their search for alternative forms of eco-resistance. Hence, I build on critiques by such scholars as Lynn White, Vandana Shiva, Carolyn Merchant, Patrick Murphy, and Enrique Dussel, among others, to provide the ideological, hermeneutical, socio-political, and aesthetic filters through which all the texts can be given fresh and original examinations. This theoretical synthesis cements my corroboration that global capitalism and “maldevelopment” go hand in hand with imperialism and androcentrism, constituting an intricate nexus of hegemonies.

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