Towards A South African "Post-Pastoralism": Alternative Environmentalisms and Multispecies Narratives in Selected Post-Apartheid South African Literature

Researcher:

Dr. Weeraya Donsomsakulkij

Research Area:

B


It is not an exaggeration to say that today’s world is experiencing an era of ecology and environment. More and more people are growing increasingly concerned about the natural environment. Moreover, nature itself frequently demonstrates its unpredictability as it undergoes massive change. Literature, as significant medium of human expression, is being transformed to adapt to these changes. This applies even more so to South African literature. South African literature performs an important service to the environmental conservation effort in South Africa. It raises individual and societal values of the natural environment through persuasive rhetoric and representations, thus contributing to ethics and knowledge. Building on this notion, this research study pursues the following questions:


1) How do selected South African authors use imagery to portray the “intra-relationships” of humans, nonhuman organisms and non-living material matter inhabiting environments in post-apartheid South Africa


2) How do these representations reflect upon environmental and sociopolitical issues in post-apartheid South Africa?


Accordingly, my investigation foregrounds an analysis of the way in which postcolonial, geocritical and ecocritical views are revealed through fictional representations, resulting in the conceptualisation of a South African “post-pastoralism” as a form of “inter-cultural” environmentalism. By employing postcolonial-material ecocriticism and geographical reading complemented by critical whiteness studies, the study dismantles the intra-relationships between humans, animals, plants and material matter while deconstructing the processes of environmental degradation and social oppression in selected works of South African literature written by J.M. Coetzee, Zakes Mda and Nadine Gordimer.