American Indian Literature, Environmental Justice, and Ecocriticism: The Middle Place
Although much contemporary American Indian literature examines the relationship between humans and the land, most Native authors do not set their work in the "pristine wilderness" celebrated by mainstream nature writers. Instead, they focus on settings such as reservations, open-pit mines, and contested borderlands. Drawing on her own teaching experience among Native Americans and on lessons learned from such recent scenes of confrontation as Chiapas and Black Mesa, Joni Adamson explores why what counts as "nature" is often very different for multicultural writers and activist groups than it is for mainstream environmentalists. This powerful book is one of the first to examine the intersections between literature and the environment from the perspective of the oppressions of race, class, gender, and nature, and the first to review American Indian literature from the standpoint of environmental justice and ecocriticism. By examining such texts as Sherman Alexie's short stories and Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Almanac of the Dead, Adamson contends that these works, in addition to being literary, are examples of ecological criticism that expand Euro-American concepts of nature and place. Adamson shows that when we begin exploring the differences that shape diverse cultural and literary representations of nature, we discover the challenge they present to mainstream American culture, environmentalism, and literature. By comparing the work of Native authors such as Simon Ortiz with that of environmental writers such as Edward Abbey, she reveals opportunities for more multicultural conceptions of nature and the environment. More than a work of literary criticism, this is a book about the search to find ways to understand our cultural and historical differences and similarities in order to arrive at a better agreement of what the human role in nature is and should be. It exposes the blind spots in early ecocriticism and shows the possibilities for building common ground— a middle place— where writers, scholars, teachers, and environmentalists might come together to work for social and environmental change.
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Abbey Abbey's Acoma Adrienne alliances Almanac American Indian writers ancient Angelita argues articulate Baboquivari Black Mesa Canyon Chippewa colonial Coltelli communities connections contaminated critics Dead Desert Solitaire Dine dominant earth Ecocriticism ecocritics ecological economic Edward Abbey environment environmental justice environmentalists Erdrich essays Euro-American experiences fight Fleur garden groups human and nonhuman imagine indigenous Joy Harjo Laguna land language Lecha Leslie Marmon Leslie Marmon Silko literary literature live Louise Erdrich Maya Mayan Med-Start Mexican middle place multicultural Nanapush narrative Native American natural world nature writing Navajo novel Ofelia Zepeda official landscape oral tradition political Popol Vuh Pueblo rain reading reservation resistance Rigoberta Menchu sacred sense Silko Simon Ortiz social and environmental Spanish speak specific places stories struggle survival teach tell Terry Tempest Williams theory tion toxic transformative tribal tribe Tucson understand University of Arizona vernacular landscape violence voices wild wilderness Yoeme Zapatistas