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Ecocriticism Greg Garrard 1. Three Directions: The Ecological Thought, Bodily Natures and Green Man Hopkins 1.2.

Postcolonial Ecocriticism Galore


Formatted: Bullets and Numbering

3. Queer Ecology: Apotheosis and Exhaustion 4. The Unbearable Lightness of Being Green: Deconstruction and Ecocriticism 1. Three Directions: The Ecological Thought, Bodily Natures and Green Man Hopkins Three monographs stood out, in an exceptionally busy year, as potential waymarkers for the future direction of ecocriticism: Stacy Alaimos Bodily Natures, John Parhams Green Man Hopkins and Timothy Mortons The Ecological Thought. It is difficult to overstate the impact of the last of these, and its astoundingly dynamic and prolific author, on ecocriticism in only a few years. His virtual presence has graced almost every conference and symposium I have attended in that period, baffling and thrilling grad students with his ideas, and making almost anything else in the field seem parochial and pedestrian by comparison. Some admixture of awe, envy, excitement and annoyed confusion must be in every member of the audience. The Ecological Thought is billed as a prequel to Mortons redoubtable Ecology without Nature, making many of the same arguments, but in a quite different idiom: The ecological thought sneaks up on you from the future, a picture of what will have had to be there, already, for ecology without nature to make sense. (p.3) While the intertextual world of the earlier book halted abruptly at la Manche, the newer one continues to draw heavily upon Levinas but supplements him with Darwin and Richard Dawkins, fulfilling Derridas claim that deconstruction was really a kind of radical empiricism in the most surprising way imaginable. In place of the dishearteningly involuted prose of Ecology without Nature, we are addressed with a breezy chumminess that is alternately winning and a bit tiresome. Thus we are told early on that Once you start to think the ecological thought, you cant unthink it: its a sphincter once its open, theres no closing. (p.4) (Im not clear on the facts here; isnt the point of a sphincter that you can close it? Answers on a postcard please.) Later on, Morton recalls a concept he introduced in Ecology without Nature: Dark ecology makes the world safe for the ecological thought. The only way out is down. It is the ultimate detox. (p.59) Some of these aperus make for marvellously memorable soundbites that convey genuine insights, but in other cases they betray the intelligence of their author by seducing him into basic errors and brutally reductive accounts of complex matters. So while it sounds cool to say that We

drive around using crushed dinosaur parts (p.29), the fact is that oil comes mainly from marine microorganisms. Repeatedly The Origin of Species is invoked, quoted or referenced so as to ratify a decidedly problematic claim, such as that what we call nature is a denatured, unnatural, uncanny sequence of mutations and catastrophic events: just read Darwin. (p.8) That is one way of looking at it, certainly, but the same nature can exhibit extraordinary structural and phylogenetic conservatism. Just ask a horseshoe crab. One of many fascinating ideas Morton introduces is the ecological thought itself, which he describes as a virus that infects all other areas of thinking (p.2) even the reactionary nature-reveries of the anti-environmentalist right. It is, in many ways, akin to Bill McKibbens lament for the end of nature, only it proposes that what has occurred, is occurring and will continue to occur is the demonstration by what he calls ecology that nature never existed in the first place. Thus McKibbens elegy is replaced by Mortons compassionate irony, and the emotional and political range of overt environmentalism is exceeded by an encompassing ecological thought that is, he concludes, irresistible, like true love (135). Like Donna Haraways naturecultures, the ecological thought expresses both the vast scale and worrying intimacy of environmental issues, undermining the conservationist mission of protecting a Nature over yonder in a National Park or wilderness while at the same time seeking a more radical political solution in complex kinds of democracy that take nonhuman beings into account. (p.126) Given that the ecological thought would entail considering the competing needs of tens of millions of species as well as struggling billions of individuals, it is perhaps an example of what Timothy Clark has dubbed, in his Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment, attempts to think everything at once. It is also, as the notion of a democracy of sentient beings suggests, far too utopian to provide moral or political insights of immediate value. The Levinasian strange stranger (roughly meaning any sentient being: animal, vegetable or digital) proves as pointless a figure as it was in Ecology without Nature, especially when it turns out that, as well as having absolute moral claims on us, we have claims on it: If youre watching a little girl in front of [a] moving truck, youre obliged to rescue her, for the simple reason that you can see her. In other words, simply because were sentient lets set the bar low to ensure that even snails and the snailiest humans are also responsible were obliged to address global warming. No proof is required that we caused it looking for absolute proof inhibits our response. (p.99) Im honestly unsure how to respond to the assertions that (1) we have a moral duty to prevent climate change even if humans didnt cause it, and (2) so do snails and all other

sentient creatures. What is more, the moving truck analogy captures the moral character of climate change so poorly it would take some absurd revisions to try and make it work: the moving truck will probably hurt her, but might actually be good for her (depending on her wealth, job and home address), unless some unknown threshold is crossed where were all in trouble. Also, shes not actually standing there but is a fictional construct who dwells in a sophisticated computer simulation of the medium-term future It is really not surprising humans to say nothing of snails have a hard time responding to such a scenario. I would agree that the IPCC process, which in fact seeks broad and deep consensus rather than the chimera of absolute proof, is insufficient on its own, but I dont understand why it inhibits our response altogether. Nevertheless, it is important to say that, as The Ecological Thought has begun to bed into ecocritical practice (including my own), and as I have heard Morton discuss it in (virtual) person, its daring visionary character has emerged more clearly. Far more than a manifesto for environmental criticism, Morton has written an extraordinary work of theoretical and political futurism. The ecological thought admits the notion of urgent environmental crisis haunted as it always is by apocalypticism while looking far beyond it. As Morton points out, What if its not a huge catastrophe worthy of a Spielberg movie but a real drag, one that goes on for centuries? (p.118) Mortons text is paradoxically stylistically frenetic and emphatic about the value of meditation and close reading: There is an ideological injunction to act Now! while humanists are tasked with slowing down, using our minds to find out what this all means. (p117) The ecological thought is simultaneously the seismic shift that the end of nature has already caused and the episteme of a distant epoch when we (humans in general not you or I sadly) will have decided to look after all sentient beings. (p.96) No other work of ecocriticism attempts to see so far beyond the immediate ecological emergency. In the meantime, we have Mortons concept of the Mesh to be getting on with, an invaluable formulation that avoids the unreflective and unscientific holism into which ecocriticism falls when it uses such metaphors as the web of life. It stresses interconnectedness but also the uncanny intimacy we might feel when we learn how minimal are the metabolic and genetic differences between humans and other creatures even plants. Thus Were faced with the extraordinary fact of increasing detail and vanishing fullness. The ecological thought makes our world vaster and more insubstantial at the same time. (p.37) As we will see, Mortons mesh means much the same as Alaimos transcorporeality, which in turn is pretty similar to a lot of other formulations that seek to evoke the liveliness,

interconnectedness and intimacy of naturecultures, although it has the edge in terms of memorability and relative ease of comprehension outside the academy both serious virtues. Bracing his description of the mesh with numerous vivid examples, most of them from microbiology rather than ecology, Morton develops a powerful, albeit not wholly original, case for posthumanism: Nature only looks natural because it keeps going, and going, and going, like the undead, and because we keep our distance, frame it, size it up. The mesh is made of prosthetic devices and algorithmic behaviours. An eye is a wet, squeezable pair of glasses. Legs are soft, brittle crutches. Ears are rather florid headphones. Brains are things that quack like minds. (p85) Such hyperbole is mesmerising, but also risky, and Morton repeatedly gets into trouble when he brings his trademark airy glibness to bear on evolutionary theory. What he quite rightly wants to attack is the crude popular interpretation of evolution as teleological, but the endemic imprecision in his language sabotages the argument: Darwin dispenses with the assumption that vultures are bald because they like sticking their heads into filth Yes, those bald heads are handy for sticking in filth. But that isnt why they evolved. (p.29-30) Obviously no biologist would claim that vultures bald heads evolved so that they could some day eat carrion they are not hopeful monsters but equally obviously their bald heads are an adaptation that fits them for carrion eating (in the sense that balder carrion eaters are more likely to survive and reproduce, ultimately fixing the genes for the adaptation). Mortons claim manages to be both true and false at the same time. It is, moreover, an especially poorly chosen example given that Old and New World vultures are now known to belong to different avian genera, which means their extreme morphological similarity is due to convergent evolution a classic case study in adaptation. He is little more accurate when he says Natural selection isnt about decorum or an organic fit. Coots dont have webbed feet, but they seem to do just fine in the water. (p.30) Since I have coots as neighbours, I can testify that their lobed feet are perfectly adapted for the marginal shallows where they spend most of their time, but not for the deep water where they struggle alongside the ducks and swans. Morton thinks he is siding with Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin against neoDarwinist adaptationism, as humanists always do, but his examples are too inapt and his arguments too flaky to tip the scale in that old (and rather overblown) dispute. Rhetorical drama prevails over accuracy far too frequently in The Ecological Thought, which is all the

more injurious given that the book may well be adopted with enthusiasm as a primer in contemporary ecocritical theory.1 At the extreme, his exaggeration amounts to actual misrepresentation: Wilderness areas are giant, abstract versions of the products hanging in mall windows (p.7); You want anti-essentialism and antibiologism? Just read Darwin (p.12); and hands, tools, laughter, and dancing have been discovered in nonhumans. (p.13) Romantic literature is of special significance not in that it is Mortons literary interest, but because apparently Nothing much has changed since then (p.11) scientific progress being merely quantitative rather than qualitative. Whereas both Mortons earlier work and the Derridean practice of deconstruction are excruciatingly attentive to the details of literary texts, the scanty readings of poetry in The Ecological Thought are tenuous and tendentious sometimes comically so. The baby mice in John Clares disturbing poem Mouses Nest are seen as disturbingly alive in their extended phenotype of glistening pools, (p.50) a claim that literally means they are capable of digging sexpools (i.e. cesspools): disturbing indeed. In an energetic misreading of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Morton rejects as an impossibly trite sentiment the sentimental message Dont shoot albatrosses! (p.46) even though the poem repeatedly states that He prayeth best who loveth best / All creatures great and small. Having deployed what Dawkins calls as an argument from personal disbelief to sink the obvious interpretation of the poem, Morton instead credits Coleridge with a remarkable intuition about the strange stranger and a recognition long before Darwin, even longer before microbiology and Levinas of the disturbingly non-thin, nonrigid boundary between life and nonlife. (p.47) Such amazing prescience is possible, presumably, because not much has changed since then. There is, in truth, little that is ecological about The Ecological Thought. Morton is hostile to environmentalism in many of its familiar forms, suggesting that By the time you finish [the book], you may feel that there are good reasons for advocating not just ecology without nature but also ecology without environmentalism. (p.6) At the same time, he trots out old environmentalist saws such as the falsehood that Corporations such as Monsanto have made it almost impossible to rely on age-old methods of saving seeds, having copyrighted the genomes of plants such as soy. (p.109) (Fact: you cant copyright an existing wild genome, only a published sequence, which affects scientist, not farmers. You can patent a genome you have engineered, on the other hand, but then its solely Monsanto soy seed
I have addressed some of the other issues with Mortons version of Darwinism notably his reductive treatment of the question of speciation in How Queer is Green, Configurations Winter 2010 (Vol.18, nos. 1-2): 73-96.
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farmers cannot save. Nor could they photocopy and distribute The Ecological Thought, should they wish to. To his credit, Mortons next book will be published by the Open Humanities Press, the publishing equivalent of sharing saved seed.) Modern ecology is so closely allied to evolutionary biology that its practitioners often refer to postequilibrium ecology as evolutionary ecology to distinguish it from earlier teleological versions, but neither Darwin nor Dawkins are expert in it. Perhaps most alarming of all is the reflection that, if a critic of Mortons formidable intellect can only intermittently deploy the conceptual apparatus set out in The Ecological Thought responsibly and accurately, what monstrous forms will it take in less experienced hands? Stacy Alaimos Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self covers some of the same terrain as Morton, but with infinitely greater care. Whereas Morton cites Darwin predominantly by providing a page number alone as if something there self-evidently supports his argument Alaimo employs sources precisely, with ample use of direct quotation. So where Morton is the valiant, heedless scout in the van, Alaimo marshals rather weightier forces with logistic precision. There is no lack of ambition in Bodily Natures; only a marked reluctance to sacrifice nuance in the fulfilment of it. At the same time, the wry, subtle humour that pervades the book enlivens the prose whilst complementing its serious political passions. Often a witty parenthetical remark or sharp observation will flare out amid the scholarly prose (always at once supremely articulate and engagingly stylish) that prevails: These web pages [of the Human Toxome Project] defamiliarize our conceptions of the human, as the modest photos and bios are dwarfed by the charts of toxicant levels and their dangers, as if we are all floating in vast landscapes of invisible threats. But then again, we are. (p.110) Alaimos central concern is to delineate trans-corporeality, an interdisciplinary concept akin to Mortons mesh (and a lot of other similar formulations), as a theoretical site where corporeal theories, environmental theories, and science studies meet and mingle in productive ways (p.3). While she sets out from the highly theorised, politicised terrain of feminist cultural studies, she seeks overtly to circumvent the biophobia that has dominated it, rejecting the association of nature with simplicity, essentialism and determinism: the notion of biology as destiny, which has long haunted feminism, depends on a particular if not peculiar notion of biology that can certainly be displaced by other models (p.5). Where antiessentialist feminism emphasised the social construction of gender, thereby minimising the role of human biology (and ceding the body to popular determinism by default), Alaimo purveys New conceptions of materiality that are neither biologically reductive nor strictly

social constructionist (p.7). Unlike Morton, she also engages energetically with issues of central to concern to environmentalists, most particularly toxicity and pollution, in a critical but never corrosive fashion. The test cases for trans-corporeality include a rich variety of fictions and memoirs that explore issues of environmental justice, citizen science, chemical sensitivity and toxic trespass. Alaimo is inspired by feminist and queer encounters with evolutionary biology, such as Ladelle McWhorters revaluation of deviation as a positive, material that traverses both human bodies and more-than-human natures (p.139) in the forms of human sexual diversity and natural processes of speciation, while at the same time she observes that Chemically sensitive people and other trans-corporeal subjects would caution that not all deviations, in this world of toxicants and xenobiotic chemicals, should be embraced. (Such admirably balanced commentary makes one wonder if Morton ever uses the phrase But on the other hand) Alaimo understands that discourses of environmental illness can have unpredictable consequences: that recognition of the risks of trans-corporeal interchanges can motivate an array of psychological, political, and material boundary practices aimed at protecting individuals from the world, for instance, rather than her preferred trans-corporeal, posthuman environmentalism that builds connections rather than boundaries. (p.111) She goes on to discuss the relationship of gender, race and class to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), and comes to the astonishing conclusion that environmental justice models do not adequately capture the distribution of MCS (p.117). It is not her claim itself that is amazing, of course; rather the fact that she has tested and rejected a hypothesis. If scientists find negative results difficult to publish, literary scholars sometimes appear to find them hard even to imagine. Alaimos willingness to falsify a hypothesis is therefore an indication of unusual open-mindedness and diligence. The dance through the minefield Alaimo attempts, with considerable success, involves reconciling the transgression compulsion of cultural studies with the quite different priorities and assumptions of environmentalism and ecology. She admits the chasm that exists between scientific facts and the murkier realm of the individual case history in material memoirs, for instance, but also the urgency of what Lawrence Buell calls toxic discourse. The real quandary is then, as she says: how does toxic discourse retain a potent sense of social and political import if its truth is always in question? (p.89) One response is seemingly to enfranchise citizen-experts who will help to transform science into something more accountable, more just, and more democratic (p.65) by encouraging political awareness of the relations between power and knowledge as well as between science and capitalist

enterprise (p.94). While it is true that the citizen-expert has historically played a vital role in environmental campaigning, especially in the United States, it is also an identity that has more recently been cunningly appropriated by the antienvironmental right there as a counter to the domination of university science departments and journals by so-called liberals. Given the importance of autodidact citizen scientists in promoting climate change scepticism on the web, I cannot share Alaimos confidence that the dispersal of scientific authority will necessarily have progressive outcomes. The third major event in ecocriticism publishing in this review period is a book by John Parham, my friend and colleague on ASLE-UKI and Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism. Green Man Hopkins: Poetry and the Victorian Ecological Imagination is a work of serious historical and biographical scholarship that engages constructively with existing ecocriticism as well as displaying immense sensitivity to the poetry around which it is built. Whereas Morton is published by Harvard University Press, which has shown no previous interest in ecocriticism, Parhams book is part of the Nature, Culture and Literature series from Rodopi Press, a wellregarded Dutch publisher with extremely expensive books and little visibility in the academic book market. Nevertheless, Parhams book deserves wide attention as the most substantial work since Kate Sopers seminal philosophical work What is Nature? (1995) to derive its approach from the eco-socialist materialism of Raymond Williams. The distinctiveness of this literary theory is due to the fact that Williams, Soper, her partner Martin Ryle and historian E.P. Thompson, the four making up Parhams pantheon, were working as hard in the peace movement and British left politics as they were in literary, historical and philosophical fields, even as poststructuralism was taking over the literary academy. Thus the utopian ambitions of this group are alloyed with a critical realist epistemology and hard political experience into an impressively resilient, flexible eco-materialism capable of holding a sharp analytical edge. Parhams own particular spin takes account of postequilibrium ecology, and aims to reconcile deep and social ecology by means of a dialectical relationship between phenomenological receptivity to wildness and social critique. While he admits postequilibrium ecology is a modern phenomenon which Victorian writers could not have suspected, he finds in some of Gerard Manley Hopkinss finest poetry an exemplar for the dialectic. First of all, though, Parham provides an invaluable portrait of the rich and complex Victorian ecology outlined, in different ways, in the work of John Ruskin, Thomas Carlyle and others. Above all, he finds that Morris life and work represents probably the most fully realised example of a paradigmatic Victorian ecology in which an ecocentric love of nature has been successfully translated into a technocentric [socialist] philosophy (p.94). Parham traces

meticulously Hopkinss own ecological philosophy, which began with his fascination with contemporary science at Oxford and was then transformed by his conversion to Catholicism and his encounter with the sacramental theology of Duns Scotus. It issued in his concept of instress, which incorporates both the energy that propels a thing to Selve or manifest (somewhat like Heideggers Lichtung) and the impression that same inner charge makes on the beholder: Due to its double-sided quality the concept of instress offered, simultaneously, the reinforcement of a concept of nature analogous to the ecological notion of dialectical interdependence i.e. the idea that living forms are upheld (sustained) by force or energy and an aesthetic principle designed to convey that truth. (p.131) Combining scientific, theological and aesthetic meanings, instress is at once the topic of Hopkins great poems of praise, and the name he gave to their own animating energy. It is worth noting, too, the apt caution with which Parham draws the analogy of instress and the theory of energy exchange in ecology, refusing to concede it either more or less force than it deserves. Hence the term proto-ecological, with its whiff of as-yet-unfulfilled destiny, recurs throughout. The heart of the book, though, is not the thick historical and biographical contextualisation of Hopkinss work, but its delineation of a formal system that links the ecophilosophy to the technique and texture of the poetry. Where the former is necessarily detailed and scholarly, the latter represents a genuine adventure in ecopoetics, requiring Parham to produce plausible accounts of the (potentially remote) relationship of specific poems to actual ecological concepts. As Parham notes, in many of Hopkinss sonnets there is a shift from a sacramental theology, infused with instress, in the octave to a more conventional redemptive theology in the sestet, but, as his account of the gorgeous Pied Beauty reveals, Hopkinss innovative curtal form tilts the balance in favour of the ecological vision. Parham is even able to account for the interplay of phonemic and metrical patterns in terms of this philosophy: in a poem written in sprung paeonic rhythm, [Hopkins] conveys an economy of species individualised by rhyme but then interrelated, first by assonance dappled, couple, stipple, tackle, fickle, freckled, adazzle and then by the rhythm which confers structural unity. Depicting a world unified past change what Hopkins conveys is an ecological celebration of diversity and flux brought together, dialectically, in the rhythm. (p.174)

Parham goes on to explore Hopkinss Ultramontane social activism which he compares to environmental justice and his praise of wildness, before tracing the depressing erosion of his confidence in the dazzling vision of instress by Jesuit orthodoxy, hard work in polluted slums, and debilitating illness. The two risks Parham runs, devoting such sustained attention to a pre-20th century Jesuit poet, are understatement and overstatement. In the former category, I would place his prose style, which too seldom allows itself to be possessed by the spirit that enlivens Hopkinss poetry. In the latter, Parhams claim that implicit in the paean to dapple is the notion of genetic diversity (p.173): Gregor Mendels first paper on inheritance in peas was published eleven years before Pied Beauty, but was almost unknown in the UK. I would also strongly dispute his reading of the ending of The Windhover as advocating an abnegation of beauty for toil (p.247) the point is surely that even soil can elicit a precious gleam of instress from the plough share (sher pld makes plough down sillion shine) and Id criticise his indulgence of the mimetic fallacy I work so hard to persuade my poetry students out of (the sprung rhythm enabl[es] him to imitate the labourers blows (p.209)). Nevertheless, Parham demonstrates a wonderful openness to his poetic materials in all their contradictoriness and complexity, and so his book deserves to be seen as a model for ecopoetics as well as historical ecocritical research. It may lack the pizzazz of The Ecological Thought, but it is more astute in its poetic analysis as well as much more closely attuned to ecology and environmentalism. Postcolonial Ecocriticism Galore Above all, 2010 was a year for publication of monographs and collections of postcolonial ecocriticism six in all, four of them reviewed here. Ironically it may also turn out to have been the same year that the postcolonial understanding of political economy was tested to breaking point: a devastating financial crisis in the former colonising nations led to vicious neoliberal retrenchment (known as austerity), while former colonies continued to experience rapid economic growth and new political and trading relationships rapidly developed outwith the old colonial networks. The acronym that epitomises this obviously (though not decisively) post-colonial condition is BRIC Brazil, Russia, India and China. The first monograph to be published, Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment by Graham Huggan and Helen Tiffin, is also one of the best. The two parts sometimes seem to be by different hands (Huggan and Tiffin respectively?) and although they share such virtues as close, astute textual analysis and commitment to aesthetic as well as

political value in the texts discussed, Part I on Postcolonialism and the Environment is more carefully balanced in its approach. Part II is unequivocal in its condemnation of omnivory, arguing that agribusiness systematically obscures the truth about its operations: While torture, killing and eating are the actual processes involved, we routinely dissociate slaughter involving animals from that involving humans, and our eating of animal flesh from human flesh, confirming such dissociations in the everyday language we employ. (p.139) Rejection of the cruelty industrial agriculture inflicts on animals on a vast scale, however, need not commit us to the moral equivalence of killing humans and other animals, let alone the equivalence of omnivory and cannibalism. Somewhat similarly, Huggan and Tiffin present a false dichotomy between meat-eating as a practical necessity and as symbolic practice, concluding that Most human meat eating is ultimately an expression of power over others, in particular women, animals and the poor (p.176). The argument only seems plausible because it has left out the nutritional advantages of meat (consumed infrequently), the gustatory pleasure of meat-eating, and the symbolic resonances it has in many cultures that are not necessarily related to social dominance (in seasonal family and community rituals, for example). They note, correctly, that as individuals within communities, or communities themselves, become wealthier a dietary shift from vegetarianism to carnivory occurs, but imply that meat-eating is simply an expression of the power that wealth brings, rather than (or, more probably, as well as) because meat is both expensive and desirable. Dissociative language and the use of food to enact and symbolise dominance certainly do exist, but the account given here is exaggerated. Having said this, the cohabitation of ecocriticism and animal studies (called zoocriticism here) is invaluable, and the literary critiques of Yann Martels Life of Pi and Barbara Gowdys The White Bone are exemplary. Part I, by contrast, consistently avoids the traps of sententiousness and continual reproof to environmentalism into which the weakest eco-poco criticism falls. From the outset it admits, without relinquishing, the impossibility of [the] utopian ambitions (p.16) of postcolonial ecocriticism, but also acknowledges that Large-scale distinctions based on the initially attractive view that postcolonial studies and eco/environmental studies offer mutual correctives to each other turn out on closer inspection to be perilous (p.3). Recognising the value of both full belly (conservationist) and empty belly (social and environmental justice) environmentalisms, Huggan and Tiffin seek reconciliation between them, rather than merely using the latter as a stick to batter the former. Indeed, they are prepared to offer measured

critiques of even such hallowed figures as Ken Saro-Wiwa, expressing their emphatic support for his campaign to hold the government of Nigeria and the oil companies in the Niger delta to account, but expressing concern about the risks of accepting his metonymic function as a global spokesperson: a function that can easily lead to moralistic generalisations about endemic political corruption in Africa, or the nefarious role of transnational companies in robbing people of their livelihoods, or the heroic part played by freedom fighters and resistance movements prepared to take on the assembled might of global commerce and the state. (p.41) Their assessment of eco-tourism is similarly carefully calibrated, conveying the weight of postcolonial critiques of its ideals and implementation, but rejecting the unfair dismissal of eco-tourisms potential to counteract the damaging environmental consequences of other, less ecologically orientated forms of touristic development (p.67). More importantly, they draw attention to the specific value of eco-poco readings of the literature of tourism, which often complicates essentialised distinctions between local cultural formations and holistic, ecological understandings of the global system to which they are all imagined to belong (p.69). Such literature and criticism, they suggest, may play a constructive role in the development of eco-tourism precisely insofar as they do not conform to a classic postcolonial critique. As in Part II, the argument is sustained above all by the literary critical readings it offers, most notably a brilliant analysis of settler pastoral, which cannot quite erase the legacy of colonial conflict: Pastoral, in this last sense, is a spectral form, always aware of the suppressed violence that helped make its peaceful visions possible, and always engaged with the very histories from which it appears to want to escape. (p.85) The implications of this insight are pursued most effectively in a sustained discussion of J.M. Coetzees Life and Times of Michael K. Huggan and Tiffins competition is Upamanyu Pablo Mukherjees Postcolonial Environments: Nature, Culture and the Contemporary Indian Novel in English, the first four chapters of which constitute the most formidable case for Marxist ecocriticism I have read since Raymond Williams. For Mukherjee, postcolonial does not mean a clean historical break from the colonial era, but a historical condition of intensified and sustained exploitation of the majority of humans and non-humans of the former colonies by a cartel composed of their own and core metropolitan European / north American elites (p.5). His adherence throughout to a declensionist history of environmental and social change (the

former very well supported by empirical evidence; the latter rather less so), and the redoubtable array of Marxist and postcolonial theories he deploys in support of his ecomaterialism, is likely to polarise even as it impresses readers. For example, he asserts that it is no secret that environmentalism and cultural eco-criticism frequently hold to a strategy of maintaining the global status quo (p.41), which is only true if the enormous technological, political, economic and cultural impacts of environmentalism since the 1960s are simply dismissed as insignificant compared to, well, Marxist revolution. In any other sense, ecocritics are and have always been implacably opposed to the global status quo. He castigates environmentalism because the catalogue of crimes committed in the name of preserving pristine nature continues to lengthen, from the ethnic cleansing of Yellowstone National Park to the stories of state violence against refugees in India in the name of preserving the natural habitats of tigers, but pays no heed to the other crimes, such as the probable extinction of the Bengal tiger in the wild, these actions were meant to avert. (Question: are working class Oregonian loggers, prevented by the Endangered Species Act from cutting down old-growth forests, environmental refugees too?) Elsewhere we are informed that it is precisely conservationist practices that often lead to massive environmental degradation (p.55) and that the tropical forests of the Amazon or the Congo can only be preserved at the cost of severely degrading millions of human and non-human lives and their environments (p.67), but the extraordinary evidence needed to substantiate these extraordinary claims is signally lacking. Instead, Mukherjee repeatedly uses the metaphor of symbiosis to imply the fundamental reconcilability, in a world transformed by Marxism, of social development and environmental protection (including, at one point (p.127), symbiosis of humans and tigers!). What are for environmentalists deeply complex and recalcitrant dilemmas are represented in Mukherjees account as deliberate strategies to obfuscate the only genuine solution possible: the end of global capitalism. Mukherjees orthodox Marxist (eco)political prescription is complemented by a quite breathtakingly sophisticated and flexible theory of literature. First of all, he is unsparing about the social position of Anglo-Indian novels specifically: Protest sells. Marginality is chic (p.8). But then, influenced by Derek Attridges remarkable book The Singularity of Literature, he promises to attend to the formal properties of novels by Arundhati Roy, Indra Sinha, Amitav Ghosh and Ruchir Josh, arguing that the literariness of Indian literature in English ought to interest us because of the way in which its inventiveness, alterity and singularity offer a critique of its own status as desirable commodity (p.10). For ecocritics anxious that their practice is merely a sort of ideological measuring tape against which the themes, plots and

characters of novels are laid, the analysis of literary form has been something of a Holy Grail, so Mukherjees emphasis on the constitutive role of other, non-literary, art forms in AngloIndian novels is especially intriguing. However, bearing in mind Victor Shklovsky identified the knights move in 1923 as the means by which the novel renewed itself through infusions of other artistic practices and metaphors, it is hard to agree that it is precisely a postcolonial environment that enables, even compels, these novels to use the kind of non-literary artistic resources folk-theatre, dance-dramas, classical music, even photography to constitute their innovative singularity (p.12). The novel has always been an omnivorous scavenger of other genres. The readings of the novels are impressive in their own right, even if they tend to be hard on liberals and environmentalists whilst being starry-eyed about the complex but palpable continuities between human and non-human communities [and] the existence and possibilities of bio-regional practices (p.113). The aspect of Mukherjees argument that has the widest potential significance for ecocriticism is his outline of the conceptual elements of an aesthetics of eco-materialism, which include: the essential unity of humans and environment, of history and nature; a constant, dynamic and differentiated relation between humans and environment through labour of all kinds; the centrality of material environment in relation to human cognitive processes and the relative human epistemological passivity before it; finally the specific enabling condition that the environment offers to all human cultural activities. (p.63) He would probably demur, but I would argue Mukherjees schema could be accepted quite widely, together with the emphasis on aesthetic singularity adapted from Attridge, whilst the Marxist prescriptions and unsubstantiated dismissals of ecology and environmentalism are left behind. There were two collections of essays in 2010: Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment, edited by Elizabeth DeLoughrey and George Handley, and Postcolonial Green: Environmental Politics and World Narratives, edited by Bonnie Roos and Alex Hunt. (An aside: the voluminous output in this year may already have exhausted all the obvious eco-poco book titles.) Both are mixed bags in terms of the quality of the essays included, and while DeLoughrey and Handley have a definite edge thanks to their superbly articulate and informative introduction and (as I said in the blurb) outstanding roster of contributors, Roos and Hunts collection includes an Afterword by Ursula Heise that incisively critiques some of the weaker essays in it a splendid innovation I hope to see adopted by other publishers.

DeLoughrey and Handleys introduction, like Huggan and Tiffins, carefully evaluates the competing claims and unsuspected interdependencies of ecocriticism and postcolonial analysis. With regard to the latter, they caution that: A postcolonial ecocriticism must be more than a simple extension of postcolonial methodologies into the realm of the human material world; it must reckon with the ways in which ecology does not always work within the frames of human time and political interest. (p.4) Responding to the postcolonial criticism of ecocriticism, they emphasise (as does Greta Gaard see below) the diversity of environmentalisms and call attention to an implicit production of a singular American ecocritical genealogy [in introductory surveys such as my Ecocriticism (2004)] that, like all histories, might be reconfigured in broader, more rhizomatic terms (p.15). While the objection is fair, and expressed fairly, I would observe as a phenomenon worthy of further consideration that, in my experience, it is academic critics located in North American and British universities who make it, while ecocriticism as actually practised in India, for example, is overwhelmingly American and deep ecological. The seeming lack of postcolonial ecocriticisms deriving from former colonial nations themselves is striking, and a bit peculiar. The scholarly idiom of DeLoughrey and Handleys introduction is almost painfully scrupulous throughout. Whether they are addressing the thorny problem of competing knowledges (p.19) or Edouard Glissants passion for the land, their prose takes the reader on tortuous journeys through statements, counter-statements and qualifications: Passion for the land is a risk because if internecine conflicts over land teach us anything it is the ease with which devotion to the local can lead to exceptionalism and violent expulsion of difference. [Yet] without undying passion for place, the values of the global and the affective standardization of peoples and nature will encounter no resistance and local ecology, no allies. At the same time, however, this aesthetics must resist the reactionary and obsolete mysticism of much environmentalism (p.27) Exhausting as it is, one cannot quibble with the necessity of taking such care in pursuit of complex truths, nor hope for them to be conveyed with much more clarity. The strongest aspect of Handley and DeLoughreys introduction is its critical and constructive engagement with environmental history, including the work of Alfred Crosby and Jared Diamond, which brings the perspective of deep time to their account, alongside that of Richard Grove, which suggests that environmentalism itself is, in part, an ironic by-product of a global consciousness derived from a history of imperial exploitation of nature (p.12). The

complementary ecologisation of history and historicisation of ecology is arguably the most important contribution of ecocriticism and environmental history to contemporary green thought. It is not surprising that not all the essays in the collection quite live up to the editors demanding specifications for eco-poco research. For instance LeGrace Bensons Haitis Elusive Paradise, a truly fascinating and unusual work of environmental art criticism, draws upon excessively simplified notions of ecology in its exploration of the work of Kreyol artists. Benson is perceptive about the social and ethnic relationships their paintings embody, but less so about Haitian environmental history itself. So she states that Because the paintings became popular in the international art market and as souvenirs for tourists, there is something to be learned about what landscape objects reveal regarding a fundamental human yearning for what scientists call a sustainable ecosystem and popular discourse refers to as paradise (p.62). It need not matter that Benson is drawing on E.O. Wilsons speculative hypothesis of a universal biophilic aesthetic, one of his least impressive scientific claims: that hypothesis has its defenders. A bigger problem is that sustainability is a concept from political economy, not the science of ecology, so it would never be found qualifying ecosystem. More fundamentally, the rhetorical alignment of human preferences in landscape paintings, or even real landscapes, and ecological criteria is dangerously misleading. Assessments of ecosystemic health are immensely complex, and if their criteria and those we have developed for perceiving paradise coincide in any way, it is likely to be fortuitous. Nevertheless, even if the ecological merit she promotes is mystified, both the gorgeous Kreyol paintings themselves and the redemptive eco-theological vision she ascribes to them are immensely appealing. Perhaps this example makes the case for a kind of strategic essentialism in ecocriticism? It is worth drawing attention to three exemplary essays in the collection. The first, Jennifer Wenzels Forest Fictions and Ecological Crises: Reading the Politics of Survival in Mahasweta Devis Dhowli is at once thoroughly ingenious and wonderfully open-minded. After a doctrinaire reminder to readers to recognize the imbrications of the social and the ecological without retreating in the face of unwarranted charges of anthropocentrism (p.137) (but what if they are warranted and how would we know?) she begins deftly to elicit an ecopoco implication from a short story she admits might seem tangential to environmental concerns. Subjected to appalling gender and caste oppression, Dhowlis story ends with the painful realisation that nature does not respond to her distress, thereby raising questions, says Wenzel, about how to reconfigure the notion of pathetic fallacy for an ecologically

minded and culturally specific reading practice (p.144). It is not, as it is in Jean-Paul Sartres Nausea, that the indifference of nature is seen as a permanent existential condition, but rather that the injustice of the ownership of forests obviate[s] any affective or ethical correspondence between nature and humanity (p.145). What is most impressive about Wenzels argument, though, is her admission that she initially misread the story because she mined Devis narrative as a source of evidence to corroborate [anti-globalisation activist Vandana] Shivas critique of privatisation (p.150). Wenzel therefore demonstrates the singularity of literature by being surprised by it, and finding herself compelled to alter her theory in the light of the literary evidence. A similar seriousness of engagement in the dilemmas explored by a literary text is shown by Anthony Carrigans Out of This Great Tragedy Will Come a World Class Tourist Destination: Disaster, Ecology, and Post-Tsunami Tourism Development in Sri Lanka. The exhibits in Carrigans case might seem alarmingly unpromising given that the tsunami was a natural occurrence (albeit exacerbated in its impact by human factors), and Chandani Lokugs novel Turtles Nest (2003) was written before it happened. Even so, Carrigan skilfully shows how the killing of turtles is entwined with the sexual exploitation of boys and women on and around the beach in a complex system of dominance based on wealth, gender and species. Commenting on the unsuccessful efforts of one sex worker to rescue turtles, Carrigan writes that: The textual correlation between Mala and the animals she tries to protect implies that a reduction in environmental exploitation is at some level bound to the capacity of Mala (and others like her) to assert autonomy over the beachs dehumanizing economies of consumption, sexual and otherwise. (p.284) Yet Carrigan also steers clear of the reflexive anti-capitalism that characterises much eco-poco criticism, arguing that the perspectives of such intensely marginalized actors (p.288) as we see in Lokugs novel will only count in Sri Lankas reconstruction in the aftermath of the tsunami if they are presented as economically and ethically meaningful (p.287). By linking the profitability of beach tourism enterprises [and] the negative cycles of local ecologies (p.288), Carrigan boldly asserts the direct practical significance of ecocritical analysis. The third essay Id single out for especial praise is Rob Nixons Stranger in the EcoVillage: Environmental Time, Race, and the Ecologies of Looking, which explores the lived and the literary realities of refugees from apartheid and conservation in South Africa. Nixons writing always brings on an attack of envy in me for its seemingly unforced elegance, as well as his unerring ability to fix on a telling anecdote. In the case of this essay, he includes both

literary analysis of three texts and a personal experience with an Afrikaner wildlife entrepreneur J.P. Kleinhans, who had bought seventy lions from whites fleeing in advance of black majority rule and was charging foreign trophy hunters top dollars to shoot dangerous African animals that were in fact canned lions, circus retirees put out to the carnivores equivalent of pasture (p.161). Alongside this comi-tragic vignette (Kleinhans ended up killed by his lions), an essay by Njabulo Ndebele about his visit to a game lodge is discussed, which he experiences as a manifestation of the postapartheid nations suddenly expansive modern tourist industry and as a racialized and naturalized fortress against that very modernity (p.164). Having gone to the lodge to watch birds, Ndebele finds himself watched (indeed, paying to be watched) warily both by the black staff and the white clientele. As such, he makes the racial difference within the game lodge visible, whilst at the same time upsetting the ecologies of looking on which it is premised. One of the other texts, Nadine Gordimers The Ultimate Safari, forces a reconceptualisation of the space of the national park by telling the story of Mozambican refugees crossing Kruger National Park to escape the civil war in their own country. Nixon comments that: If Yellowstone were located at Nogales or El Paso, it would loosely approximate the convergence of charismatic megafauna, tourist leisure, cross-border desperation, militarization, and legal and clandestine immigration that have marked Krugers history. (p.169) Whereas eco-poco criticism can convey a certain mandarin remoteness, Nixons vivid prose and the authenticating stamp of his experience as a journalist draw the reader deeply into the quandaries he describes: for all the complexities that the coexistence of pastoralists, agriculturalists, and wildlife entails, such hybrid uses of land may play an essential part, long term, in helping to dissolve the resilient, Manichean perception of blacks as poachers (or encroachers) and white environmentalists as humane towards animals but inhumane toward people (p.176). While Nixon is all too aware that reforming postcolonial ecologies of looking will require much more than fine writing and perceptive literary criticism, his own work epitomises what our contribution might, at its best, consist in. One of the most interesting points DeLoughrey and Handley make is that Colonialism must not be understood as a history relegated to the periphery of Europe and the United States, but rather a process that also occurred within and that radically changed the metropolitan center. (p.10) The implication would be that British ecocriticism, among others

of the centers, ought to register this pressure, which is a possibility I have not yet seen explored. What has happened is an encounter between Irish literature, postcolonialism and ecocriticism, the uneven outcomes of which are collected in Out of the Earth: Ecocritical Readings of Irish Texts, edited by Christine Cusack. For the most part, the essays divide into recognisable first wave ecocritical treatments of Irish writers and postcolonial analyses of landscape that betray little or no environmental interest. So Eomann Walls essay Richard Murphys Ecology ratifies the importance of Murphys poetry of place by comparing it to Gary Snyder and Robinson Jeffers, and concludes with the surprising claim that language and literary form can be seen in the Irish context to have evolved as a collaboration between humans and the natural world (p.19). Such a radically naturalising assertion sits uncomfortably alongside fiercely skeptical work like Ein Flannerys Ireland of the Welcomes: Colonialism, Tourism and the Irish Landscape, an extremely articulate and laughably unfair attack on posters and guidebooks promoting tourism in Ireland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We should be alerted early on by the assertion that, just as Romanticism mutated physical wildness into passive scenic for consumption by urban constituencies, so travel writers begin to mediate Ireland as a playground for sumptuous and unpolluted rustic leisure (p.87): the first point about Romanticism is an absurd caricature, while the second is merely obvious. Apparently the main offence is that, in the marketing of Ireland to British tourists, the landscape is purged of its historical details and an anaesthetic picturesque displaces traumatic memory (p.91): the Irish Tourists Illustrated Handbook (1852) scandalously gives the Famine just one sentence, while a poster for the Great Southern Railway is scorned because the traumatic history of Cromwellian dispossession and of a lengthier colonial occupation is bleached from the timeless spectacle of Ross Castle (p.100). It is worth noting how the mere absence of historical detail (which seems impossible for a poster artist to represent, as well as commercial suicide for his or her employers to include) is made to seem sinister and deliberate by the world bleached although the author avoids making such a daft claim directly by employing the passive voice. The following sentence pulls exactly the same manoeuvre: In other words, the violent, contested history of this landscape is evacuated in order to satiate the demands of a depoliticised and picturesque aesthetic (p.100-1). Meanwhile bears and Popes continue to behave exactly as expected. (Railway posters that depict colonial oppression and guidebooks that emphasise the horror of the Famine Im tempted to warn Oxford Brookes University not to put Flannery in charge of any aspect of publicity.)

The larger issue here, which concerns me increasingly, is the Argument from Absence Flannery uses so capably. It was a radical move in the 1980s to read against the grain and to facilitate, using the tiniest of diagnostic clues to pinpoint determinate absences, the return of the repressed from canonical texts, but the tactic has now degenerated into a pointless display of the superiority of the critic over the artefacts and authors they expose. Why should colonial history (or any other scholarly or political interest) claim precedence, such that its absence from a representation can only be culpable (p.105)? Absence is, of course, intrinsically illimitable, so one might just as well savage the railway posters for their outrageous erasure of Irish biogeography, which Im quite interested in, or indeed have a pop at Flannery for his deliberate bleaching of Stalins political philosophy from his own argument. In its lowest form, the Argument from Absence amounts merely to the observation, in an idiom of injured offence, that a feminist analysis of pastoral neglects the racial perspective, or a Marxist critique occludes the environment. There is an obvious difference between ignoring something and merely being interested in something else, and until academic critics recover their sensitivity to that difference these weasel verbs of alleged repression and imagined slight should be banned. There are a couple of ecocritical essays in Cusicks collection, including those by Kathryn Kirkpatrick and Maureen OConnor, but in the main they ignore environmentalism and consistently confuse landscape, place and ecology. So, for example, Joanna Tapp Pierces Nothing Can Happen Nowhere: Elizabeth Bowens Figures in a Landscape valiantly strives to demonstrate that the devotion to Cork of her chosen author went beyond really liking the big house she inherited at Bowens Court. The key phrase, familiar to students of first wave ecocriticism, is intimate connection, which need only be established at a rather anaemic rhetorical level. Pierce proves the case for a sense of place, as far as it goes, but overstates the argument fatally when she claims that: animism is clearly evident in the relationships between Elizabeth Bowens human and non-human characters, though, perhaps because of societal attitudes, the symbolic presence of her places has been most explored by Bowens critics. (p.51) At most, the evidence supports some tactical anthropomorphism in Bowens text, and a radical underestimate of what animism involves for Pierce. In truth, what she means is Animism Lite, which is distinguished from the real thing by its lack of ritual experts, severe prescriptions and demanding expiatory and protective practices. For economy, one might say (to neo-animists in ecocriticism as well as Pierce): no terror, no animism.

The last of the major eco-poco publications under review is Bonnie Roos and Alex Hunts collection, the introduction to which is rather less substantial than DeLoughrey and Handleys. It wheels out a classic Argument from Absence in the first paragraph, criticising a US Navy recruiting advert based on its humanitarian response to the Asian tsunami for its elision of ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq (p.1), and it repeats (without evidence) the demoralising claim that, when put into practice, environmentalism often inadvertently results in racist or classist policy (p.3). It is true that, because it sometimes involves unavoidable trade-offs between human profit and welfare and the survival of non-humans, some people will be disadvantaged by environmental policy, and some of those people will certainly be non-white or working class; in all likelihood disproportionately so. Leftist academics will rightly want to address that inequality by political and economic means. But the swiftest glance at the work of WWF, FoE or Greenpeace will demonstrate the extraordinary pains they nowadays take to involve local communities and indigenous groups in their conservation work, and to ensure as far as possible that they benefit rather than suffer from it. I believe that literary scholars, who can resolve conflicts of social justice and environmental protection all too easily at a rhetorical level, should show more generosity to those who have to try to do it in practice. As noted above, eco-poco criticism focuses on the literature of former colonies, but is produced almost exclusively in metropolitan universities in the Global North, and Roos and Hunt are rightly concerned about the danger that scholars speaking from the United States may take up a position of dominance when we should be privileging the voice of and providing a venue for those writers whose work and ideas have historically been silenced (p.10). Despite the welcome inclusion of Mukherjee who appears in both collections and two East Asian scholars, though, they have not been able to avoid taking up such a position. The editors also state, rightly, that postcolonial green scholarship must define itself not as a narrow theoretical discourse but as a relatively inclusive methodological framework that is responsive to ongoing political and ecological problems and to diverse kinds of texts (p.9), but then go on to suggest that any text can profitably be read from a postcolonial green perspective (p.9). If that seem overly optimistic, it might also be seen as insufficiently modest about the explanatory power of the framework they promote. The critical task for a globalised ecocriticism is to understand how the discourses of nature within various nation-states and ethnic regions differ, and to posit culturally-specific rhetorical and political strategies for environmentalism according to those insights. For that to work, we need to know when to stop trying to apply a postcolonial green perspective. Limit cases and negative results are

extremely unusual in literary criticism (though see the discussion of Alaimo above), but more vital in this field than any other. The most persuasive essays in the collection are those by Mukherjee, Deckard and Wright, in part because India, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, the geographical locations of the texts they analyse, bear such deep ecological scars from their respective colonial histories. Deckard, for example, shows how Leonard Woolfs transformation from unconscious imperialist to opponent of the imperial enterprise prompted him into: detailed indictments of the destructive colonial practices: the burning of the highlands to clear land for plantations; the partition and taxation of communal land; and the reduction of village agriculture to slash-and-burn methods; the despicable butchery perpetuated by the colonial policy of selling big-game permits to European hunters; the instigation of a rinderpest epidemic; the destruction of local villages and land for the creation of railroads and roads. (p.35) Shifting into an analysis of contemporary Sri Lankan writer Romesh Gunesekera, Deckard provides compelling evidence that broader structural conditions produce ethnic conflict and social corruption alongside environmental destruction (p.41), although she incautiously refers, more than once, to traditional, sustainable ways of existing in the natural world (p.37): the term sustainable simply cannot be used meaningfully of pre-modern societies with low population densities and no synthetic fertilisers or fossil fuels. By contrast, Laura Wrights Diggers, Strangers, and Broken Men: Environmental Prophecy and the Commodification of Nature in Keri Hulmes The Bone People provides a more carefully balanced assessment: it acknowledges that Hulmes conscious remaking of Maori mythic tradition heals the cultural dis-ease that has resulted from a history of indigenous cultural repression and environmental destruction, but also points out that Hulmes novel holds Maori and white populations equally responsible for the compromised landscape that they share (p.64). Even though Wright dismisses as anachronistic the idea of an environmental conscience among the precolonial Maori, she carefully avoids the admission supported by literally heaps of archaeological evidence as well as numerous parallels from insular biogeography that Maori hunting might have been the crucial factor in the rapid extinction of the flightless moas, choosing instead to hold rats and dogs responsible. The elephant (or, better, the extinct woolly mammoth) in the room in all these ecopoco texts is human population, a crucial factor in environmental impact that they consistently address in one of two ways: denial and rejection. First of all, it must be stated that, as Wright affirms, in some areas people in the third world are reproducing at rates that

seem outrageous to cultures that have achieved zero population growth (p.71) but only because we have become accustomed to our own high population densities. It is also clear that, as eco-poco critics often aver, anxieties about population growth can be racially motivated (but equally, not all of them are). Objectively speaking, it is wealthy westerners, our environmental impacts dramatically multiplied by excessive and unequal consumption of resources and production of waste, who most urgently need to stop reproducing. Population growth rates are falling around the world for a variety of reasons, but the actual number of people is still growing rapidly (by around 80 million per year) due to demographic inertia. Vital though it is to confront overconsumption, inequality and racism, it is simply impossible to comprehend or arrest the environmental crisis without taking population into account. On the whole, eco-poco analyses merely refuse to do so. Thus Huggan and Tiffin point out that western exploitation has generated apparently either / or situations in contexts of land and resource scarcity or degradation (p.137), but then they cite the example the eviction of families from a forest reserve in Sulawesi who had already been forced into the highlands because of pressure from the resettlement and migration of other Indonesians (p.137, my emphasis). While the growth rate in Indonesia has fallen close to 1% and the Ecological Footprint Atlas considers the present population to fall below its theoretical self-sufficient maximum, the overall number still grew by 20 million in the first decade of the twenty-first century. In such a context, even if it were politically possible to distribute wealth more equally (which it presently is not, to any substantial degree), either / or situations are inevitable. Mukherjee claims that neo-liberal economic policies have had disastrous effects on both Indian agriculture and Indian farmers (p.2), citing evidence that in 1991 a kilogram of seeds [presumably open-fertilised] cost Rs.7, but by 2001 farmers were shelling out Rs. 350 for less than half a kilogram of hybrid seeds (p.2). Yet in the same period, inflation was running at around 10% (with a high of 20% in 1999), Indian agricultural production grew by a mean average of 2.1% (across six crop types) every year, and the population grew by 166 million. Rapid economic growth did not eliminate enduring desperate poverty, but there were no famines in this period; so a strange sort of disaster, one might say. (Moreover, as all gardeners will know, if its productivity you want, comparing open-fertilised seeds with F1 hybrids is like comparing a penny-farthing to a modern racing bike.) In his analysis of Amitav Ghoshs The Hungry Tide, too, Mukherjee leaves out of account the land pressure that, together with inequality and ethnic politics, forces internal migration and makes conflicts between people and tigers all too likely. Over and over again, population growth is the unacknowledged agent of devastations eco-poco critics lament, as in LeGrace Bensons

extended account of the sustained degradation, initiated under French colonialism and American occupation, of Haitis natural environment. In addition to suffering the effects of crumbling infrastructure, deforestation and gully erosion, Peasants were finding it prohibitively expensive to establish legal claims to smaller and smaller divisions handed down from postrevolutionary distributions, or to grow enough to feed a family. Vodou was of little practical assistance. (p.77) A population that has grown from 4 million in 1960 to 10 million in 2010, and families that are larger the poorer they are (and, indeed, vice versa), are the crucial factors. Even Nixons analysis of South African game reserves discusses the land squeeze (p.176) that sharpens the competing demands of people and wildlife, but prefers not to address the doubling of the countrys population since 1976. What I am emphasising here is not a personal hobby-horse or politicised identity claim that has been elided or ignored, but a causative factor in environmental crisis that eco-poco refuses to admit. That refusal is principled, not merely accidental, as the infrequent direct considerations of demography reveal. Two arguments are typically deployed to prevent serious thought on the subject: that population control often assumes that we must adopt coercive and undemocratic means to stem the tide (Roos and Hunt p.71), and that supporting family planning is an alternative to the sorts of political interventions the critic prefers. Rachel Steins essay in Roos and Hunts collection, Bad Seed: Imperilled Biological and Social Diversity in Ruth Ozekis All Over Creation, contrives to repeat both egregious errors. I will leave aside the uncritically congratulatory circuit her essay completes between Vandana Shivas anti-globalisation activism and Ozekis agitprop fiction, and the vague intersectional analysis Stein employs (the kind I criticised in my review of 2009) not least because Ursula Heises Afterword capably critiques the simplistic alignment of biological and cultural diversity Ozeki and Stein take for granted, concluding that: biological and cultural diversity might turn out to operate according to logics that differ substantially from each other, and Ozekis argument, which makes sense as a stance on multiculturalism, comes to seem highly questionable as a principle of ecological thinking. (p.257) I am more interested in how Steins ethical propriety leaves her in the unenviable position of fighting a war on three fronts: attacking anti-abortionists and population-control advocates [who] would prohibit womens reproduction to save the environment (p.180) and also the transnational corporations who profit from controlling both plant seeds and womens fertility (p.181). I find no evidence in Steins text of any corporations that accomplish the latter (at least, not at the same time) and I remain unconvinced that horticultural sharing of

open-fertilised seeds constitutes a viable alternative to agribusiness on a planet with seven billion humans. Much more importantly, her attack on population control is inaccurate and misconceived, because it is impossible to find any mainstream organisation departing from a strictly non-coercive approach to family planning (see, for instance, Planned Parenthood, Population Matters, Population Institute of Canada). Far from being in a position to prohibit anything, they have to struggle against repressive patriarchal states and religious groups to support the vast unmet demand for contraception and safe abortion from women throughout the world, and should be supported in that task, not attacked with anachronistic absurdities like Steins assertion that eugenics and environmentalism continue sometimes to operate hand in hand (p.178). Waving a puppet of the Reverend Malthus at the reader to anaesthetise critical thought, she dishes up a classic false dichotomy: that self-serving Mathusian [sic] arguments blame poor women of color, rather than wealthy white consumers, for current environmental crises (p.179, my emphasis). As the economic growth of Brazil, India and China demonstrates, poor women of colour will, in many millions of cases, be the mothers of much richer children in the future. The moral case for such enrichment is unanswerable, but so is the environmental case for its impossibility unless wealthy white consumers agree to be made systematically poorer at the same time. I predict we will not. The Euro-American financial crisis that began in 2009, and the economic realignment it has accelerated and underscored, is being taken seriously in postcolonial circles but has yet to register in ecocriticism. Without denying that neocolonial relationships continue to pertain between former colonial and colonised nations, I would argue for serious consideration of the limits of the postcolonial framework, and perhaps for its incorporation within the broader notion of globalisation. The colossal economic power and ecological impact of China, never fully colonised by the west nor (arguably) recently colonial, indicates it would be a useful test case, which the rapid growth of ecocritical research there should facilitate. An excellent start is Gang Yues Fragments of Shangri-La: Eco-Tibet and Its Global Circuits, one of the most remarkable essays in Roos and Hunts collection. For one thing, Yue does not deny the importance of population growth; for another, he negotiates the complex historical and political situation of Tibet with scrupulous care. But the real interest of the essay lies in its explanation of the complex relationship between western New Age projections of Eco-Tibet and the emerging environmental movement in the Peoples Republic of China, in which a green Tibet projects a green orientalism that has transformed the land of snows, coded [on maps] in dark brown and still under the occupation of the Reds, into a Shangri-La of deep green (p.51-2). As Yue shows, the former contempt with which Tibetans were regarded,

thanks to Marxist suspicion of superstitious primitivism and Han Chinese ethnocentrism, has now largely been displaced by a postsocialist green admiration for Tibetan culture. Yet, unlike the western vision of eco-Tibet that, in part, inspired it, Chinese admiration for Tibetan harmony with nature concedes nothing to the nationalism of the Dalai Lama in exile. Instead, supported by archaeological excavations of the real Shangri-La in Diqing Prefecture, Chinese postsocialist green subsumes Tibetan culture in its reconstruction of the indigenous, multicultural Sino-Tibetan world (p.58), and looks to its enchanted relationship with nature as a shared ideal from which Han Chinese culture has recently fallen. What Yue shows is the complexity of the colonial situation of Tibet, which amounts in some respects to a limit condition. Postcolonial ecocriticism will only stand to gain from more energetic and honest exploration of its boundaries. Ecofeminism and Queer Ecology Greta Gaards New Directions for Ecofeminism: Toward a More Feminist Ecocriticism (Isle 17.4) is a manifesto for the renewal of ecofeminism as a central perhaps the central theoretical strand in environmental criticism. It is motivated by the authors evident frustration with the marginalisation of ecofeminism in several areas: in popular field surveys such as Lawrence Buells The Future of Environmental Criticism and my Ecocriticism; in the Diversity Caucus of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment; in dominant constructs of posthumanism, environmental justice, bioregionalism and ecopsychology. Since I am criticised in the article for culpable omission of ecofeminism, as well as anti-feminist name-calling, I need to proceed with especial care: focusing on arguments of principle, resisting the temptation to defend myself and leaving interested readers to make their own assessment of her allegations. Gaard is right to point out that introductory surveys used by undergraduates have a particularly heavy responsibility in terms of shaping dominant understandings of the history and future of a field. Of Buells popular characterisation of first wave and second wave ecocriticism, which he derives self-consciously from similar constructs within histories of feminism, Gaard observes that it will inadvertently erase the history of ecological feminism and feminisms of color from both feminism and ecocriticism alike (p.646). In fact, Buell presents his wave metaphor explicitly as a simplification, and emphasises that second wave ecocriticism, orientated like ecofeminism towards social justice, builds on first wave positions as well as arguing with them. Gaard reasonably asks that we would do well to find a different metaphor for describing the developments of ecocritical historyone that includes the

contributions of feminisms in its framework, not just as a footnote or augmentationso that the future of ecocriticism may rest on firmer ground (p.646), but does not in fact provide one, whereas Buell supplements his wave metaphor with a palimpsest of ecocritical positions. Buell is an exceptionally subtle writer, and so he provides the pedagogical simplification of the wave model with plenty of needed qualifications. Gaard places much emphasis on what I have called the Argument from Absence, pointing out, for example, that the animal studies groundwork of vegan feminists and ecofeminists is barely mentioned in the currently celebrated field of posthumanism, yet feminist scholarship both predates and helpfully complicates that work (p.645). Gaard backs up her argument at every stage with extensive lists of authors and texts that have been omitted, as if they could establish beyond argument the need to include them. Yet, alongside any such list of ecofeminist texts one could also provide a similar list of authoritative works in deep ecology, ecopsychology, biogeography, environmentalist politics, philosophy of science and so on, not all of which could be included in any given text (including Gaards, of course, which cites nothing from scientific ecology but why should she?). Absence is, as I have observed above, illimitable, and the case for inclusion of any text or perspective rather less than self-evident. A similar point might be made concerning Yaakov Garbs critique of NASAs famous whole earth photo, which Gaard quotes as an exemplary ecofeminist analysis. She writes: This whole earth image depicts earth as an object of art, seen from such a distance that we do not see such simultaneously personal and political experiences as military occupation, death, sexual assault, deep sea oil drilling, aerial gunning of wolves, toxic waste, social injustice, human and interspecies oppression. (p.658) It seems absurd to castigate a single influential photo for failing to be a photo of a lot of other things (most of them impossible to represent in single photos in the first place). Even a photo that does represent the aerial gunning of wolves does not provide a standpoint for understanding eco-justice problems (p.658) all by itself the narrative context is all. As it happens, I do consider ecofeminism one of the most important strands in environmental criticism, and so support the aims of her manifesto. However, the intersectional analysis she promotes needs to make more careful discriminations and assume the alignment of social and environmental objectives less idealistically. In particular, the chain of equivalences (p.647) ecofeminists and environmental justice advocates discern between environmental politics and sexism, racism and other human-centred isms has been established far too neatly and easily. When Gaard cites Estok (whose work I reviewed

last year) approvingly for understanding the linked oppression of nature, non-dominant species, sexualities, and genders (p.651), we might be tempted to ask if oppression is really the right metaphor for the mix of destruction, appropriation, transformation and renewal humans impose on nature. After all, even assuming anti-essentialist forms of human identity, women, people of colour and sexual minorities have far more congruent interests, and a more coherent identity, than any ecosystem. Since our actions will often harm some species whilst benefitting others, who is oppressing whom? I am not convinced there can be oppression without sentient or possibly sapient experience of it, either. Secure connections between social and environmental analysis will require distinctions as well as intersections to be made. One of the writers who has asserted most confidently that the oppression of women and animals intersect is Carol Adams, whose book The Sexual Politics of Meat was published in a 20th Anniversary Edition in 2010. The original book begins after no fewer than 39 pages of approving quotations and reprinted Prefaces, which testify to its undoubted influence without certifying its central argument, the prototype of all intersectional analysis, as beyond criticism. Whilst I might, as an omnivore and heterosexual male of fairly conventional tastes, be suspected of defensiveness or bias, Im convinced that, two decades on, the time is right to re-evaluate Adamss claim: that the sexual politics of meat animalizes women and sexualizes and feminizes animals (p.4) through a common process of exclusion Adams calls the absent referent: Behind every meal of meat is an absence: the death of the animal whose place the meat takes. The absent referent is that which separates the meat eater from the animal and the animal from the end product. The function of the absent referent is to keep our meat separated from any idea that she or he was once an animal, to keep something from being seen as having been someone. (p.13) There is no doubt Adams is correct about this: although the difference that keeps pork remote from pig and beef from cow is a contingent linguistic phenomenon deriving from the Norman invasion (French terms for the product; Anglo-Saxon for the working side), there can be little dispute that the meat industry does all it can to ensure facelessness. What Adams has a far harder time proving is that animals are also systematically sexualised: her evidence here amounts to a smattering of carefully-selected smutty adverts, most of them deriving some feeble innuendo from the words breast and thigh. Ive been looking out for examples in British popular culture for the past ten years, and I havent spotted a single one. Perhaps I dont read the right newspapers.

The more serious weakness in Adams argument is on the feminist side, which attempts to depict pornography as operating by the same logic of the absent referent. Again, there is some merit in the argument: Adams was the first to point out how crudely zoomorphic language is used in the context of sexuality (in pornography but also elsewhere), but wrongly asserts that animalising language is always derogatory with respect to women and approving with respect to men. In fact, rapists are regularly attacked as sex beasts in the popular press, while describing a woman as an animal in bed is meant to be complimentary. As the first example suggests, violence against women is a source of immense anger and revulsion in most women and men, whereas the organised violence of the meat industry is largely vindicated where its not simply occluded. Adams argument against pornography depends on a misleading equivocation between consumption of material (flesh) and images (womens bodies), which she considers not only comparable but morally identical. If true, there would be no moral distinction between murderous cannibalism and nonviolent pornography, which seems somewhat disproportionate. Adamss language is never less than white-hot with righteous indignation, as when she explains that, in sexual butchering the knife, real or metaphorical, [is] the chosen implement (in pornography the camera lens takes the place of the knife, committing implemental violence), going on to say that sexual butchering is a basic component of male pornographic sexuality (p.88). The example she gives of the former is from a hoax film called Snuff, which was released under the deliberate pretence that women were actually killed. The disgusting scene of butchering it simulates (though Adams seems to have fallen for the promotional hype) is taken as the apotheosis of all other pornography, even though most of it (I dare say) refrains from explicit violence. Just as Gaard sees the whole earth image as culpably omitting a long list of Terran injustices, Adams sees pornographic images of womens bodies as always butchering and dissecting them, ignoring the obvious fact that the face of a porn actress is as important as her secondary sexual characteristics. Her face matters because it is the means by which the male fantasy of reciprocated desire can be satisfied. As such, the actress is a partial (compromised or fantasy) subject she has consented to be represented as if she consents to sex rather than, as in the case of meat, a mere object. There is no market for faceless porn, and not a lot for necrophile porn, the more precise analogy for meat-eating. So The Sexual Politics of Meat is certainly innovative and provocative, but it is probable that the prototypical text of intersectional analysis is also partly to blame for the rather imprecise and tendentious habits of connection-making we have seen in more recent examples.

Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erikson, includes intersectional analysis at its best and worst. Incorporating thirteen essays, as well as a superb editorial introduction (including an extended discussion of Brokeback Mountain) that constitutes an essay in its own right, it is a thoroughly fascinating and sometimes enraging collection. The editors explain the mission of the book with crisp precision, saying that: the task of a queer ecology is to probe the intersections of sex and nature with an eye to developing a sexual politics that more clearly includes considerations of the natural world and its biosocial constitution, and an environmental politics that demonstrates an understanding of the ways in which sexual relations organize and influence both the material world of nature and our perceptions, experiences, and constitutions of that world. (loc. 86) The first part of the task, including greening queer politics (loc.332), is unexceptional, and clearly admirable; the second is intellectually thrilling, and besieged on all sides by hazards. Even the introduction succumbs at times: Mortimer-Sandilands and Erikson rightly emphasise the importance of non-reproductive sexualities in animal behaviour, and poke fun at the difficulties biologists have had tried to explain such diversity in reassuringly heteronormative terms, but then criticise evolutionary and ecological thought for retaining heterosexuality as a defining adaptive capacity because it is the only form of sexual activity leading directly to the continuation of a species from one generation to the next (loc. 166). Yet however much biologists learn to correct their heteronormative bias, heterosexuality will remain the only reproductive form of sexual activity (asexual reproduction being, by definition, not sex) and will therefore retain its central significance for evolution. The funniest and most brilliant essay in the volume, for my money, is the first one: Stacy Alaimos Eluding Capture: The Science, Culture, and Pleasure of Queer Animals, which confronts in forthright, but sympathetic, fashion the problem that: much queer theory has bracketed, expelled, or distanced the volatile categories of nature and the natural, situating queer desire within an entirely social, and very human, habitat. This now compulsory sort of segregation of queer from nature is hardly appealing to those who seek queer green places, or, in other words, an environmentalism allied with gay affirmation, and a gay politics that is also environmentalist. (loc.713) So although Alaimo understands full well the anxieties of queer theorists who resist the legitimising (read: naturalising) of queer sexualities by the non-human sexual diversity

catalogued for the first time in Bruce Bagemihls Biological Exuberance (1999), she rejects both biological determinism and human exceptionalism regarding queer sexuality: Rather than continuing to pose nature/culture dualisms that closet queer animals as well as animal cultures, and rather than attempting to locate the truth of human sexuality within the already written book of nature, we can think of queer desire as part of an emergent universe of a multitude of naturecultures. (loc. 820) For Alaimo, queer animals need to be located within a model that allows for both cultural critique of the more familiar kind and a commitment to uncovering material realities and agencies (loc.798). At the same time, I believe she resists the most dramatic implications of her own view, as when, sorting through John Lanchesters list of supposedly social phenomena unique to humans, she comments that: While slavery, rape, and harem leap out as all-too-human in terminology, there is certainly solid evidence for society, bonding, [and] hierarchy within many animal species. (loc.815) It is true that the first set of terms is more emotive than the second, and that cultural critics will tend to be far more concerned about the potential for non-human parallels to legitimise human behaviours in such instances. Nevertheless, once we have accepted that orca hunting practices or orangutan tool repertoires are cultural, it seems merely picky to deny that the enforced copulation visited upon mallard ducks by drakes on the roof of my boat every spring is not also a kind of rape. (Conversely, I would also argue sociobiological accounts of human behaviour cannot be dismissed de jure.) The real question, as in all cross-species comparisons, is whether one takes the relationship of human and duck rape to be homological, analogical or metaphoric (in this case: analogy). Later in the essay, Alaimo herself shows less compunction in a wry aside concerning a female bonnet macaque who fashioned numerous tools to facilitate masturbation: An artist at work (loc.850). What is most compelling about Alaimos essay is the vision of naturalcultural diversity with which she concludes it, and the wonder and awe (loc.933) terms once associated with normalising deep ecology queer nature inspires in her. A similarly impressive level of scientific literacy and sophisticated cultural critique is evidenced by Ladelle Macwhorters Enemy of the Species, which traces in extraordinary detail the vicissitudes of the notion of species in nineteenth and twentieth century science and politics. Perhaps because her essay toils through the horrors of eugenics, rather than focusing on the liberatory energies of contemporary biological research on sexuality, it is far bleaker than Alaimos, albeit similarly careful to situate science, not relativise or idolise it.

After these two, however, the quality goes downhill somewhat. The other essays in this section on queer animality add little to the discussion: Nol Sturgeons Penguin Family Values includes a worthwhile analysis of the gay penguin controversy and does good service in confronting American right-wing antienvironmentalism and homophobia, but ends up reinvesting in the natural capacity (loc.1799) of human transcendence as the only alternative to (an equally mythical) biological determinism of sex and gender. Like several other essays in this collection, it also employs an Argument from Egregious Misrepresentation, in which mainstream environmentalists are mysteriously held responsible when their ideas are warped inside more fanatical minds. Thus Al Gores careful treatment of the crisis of global population is praised for its relative sensitivity to the possibility of demonizing Global South peoples and its recognition of the responsibility of the United States and the role of corporate greed (loc.1741) in environmental crisis, and yet Sturgeon says he has legitimated racist arguments about overpopulation. Similar arguments are often used of sociobiologists, who do not, admittedly, defend conservative views on gender issues themselves, but whose ideas can be misappropriated and distorted in order to do so. I would respond that it is warped and unfair to hold authors responsible when their ideas are bent and broken in support of positions they personally reject. The next section, on Queering Environmental Politics, largely rehearses existing positions, most conspicuously in Andil Gosines paralysingly orthodox Non-white Reproduction and Same-Sex Eroticism: Queer Acts against Nature. The slanders it repeats about the alleged racism of environmentalism and the dangers of Malthusianism are too banal and predictable to address (they are precisely the same arguments I addressed under ecopoco above), but it is worth correcting the sheer falsehood Gosine repeats concerning the Sierra Clubs internal debate surrounding population and immigration: the fact is (as he would know if he looked into it even briefly) that the Club considered changing its neutral position on immigration during an energetically-contested election in 2004, but never did so. The policy of the Club was, and still is, to take no position on U.S. immigration, to support womens reproductive choice, to criticise consumerism, and to reduce the U.S. birth-rate the opposite of the position Gosine ascribes to it. Meanwhile, on the other side of the supposed imbrication of racist population control and oppression of same-sex eroticism, are efforts by various municipal authorities to prevent or mitigate the environmental effects (meaning, basically, littering with condoms and cigarette butts) of gay sex outdoors. In case this sounds rather trivial, Gosine offers it in a dramatically amplified form: Nonreproductive homosexual sex has been represented in dominant renderings of ecology and environmentalism as

incompatible with and threatening to nature (loc.2102). Ive read rather a lot of renderings of environmentalism, and I have not come across a single instance of anxiety about the ecological threat of homosexual sex, which is probably because Gosines allegation is not true, and no one with knowledge of environmental politics could seriously think it is true. On the subject of al fresco shagging, Im ambivalent: to the extent complaints about it are motivated by homophobia, Id be likely to support it; but to the extent it involves environmental damage no doubt extremely small-scale and localised Im agin it. Furthermore, based on Leo Bersanis frank assessent of the ruthless hierarchies of physical perfection, sartorial correctness and sexual prowess that prevail in gay male cruising venues, Im less inclined to see it as a productively transgressive practice. But seriously: anyone, pro or con, who imagines it is an environmental issue on a par with population growth or climate change urgently needs their sense of proportion recalibrating. Another essay from this section, Giovanna Di Chiros Polluted Politics? Confronting Toxic Discourse, Sex Panic, and Eco-Normativity, provides an instructive contrast to Gosines anti-environmentalist hyperbole. Di Chiros analysis focuses on widespread concerns among anti-pollution activists that oestrogen-mimicking and chemicals might be disrupting the normal development and function of reproductive organs of, in particular, male humans and other animals. What Di Chiro explores is the potential conflict between such alarm-raising toxic discourse and the positions of queer and disability advocates: What are presented by many environmentalists as critical scientific facts (and quite rightly worthy of alarm) can, however, work to create a sex panic, resuscitating familiar heterosexist, queerphobic, and eugenics arguments classifying some bodies as being not normal: mistakes, perversions, or burdens. (loc.2747) Di Chiros point is that, of all the many potentially adverse effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (or HAAs hormonally active agents) on the health of men and women, it is the gender-bending effects on masculinity that tend to be stressed in press releases and popular environmentalist texts. The result, she says, is a polluted politics that constructs disabled people as toxic bodies and lgbtq people as possibly disabled by chemical pollution. Di Chiro has identified a genuinely fascinating problem for queer ecology. In fact, I would argue that, precisely because of Di Chiros intellectually and ethically responsible approach, she explores, in a peculiarly concentrated way, the key question for an environmental politics attentive to queer and disabled perspectives. Much of her analysis is devoted to explaining both why endocrine disrupting chemicals are a genuine environmental hazard and showing how that threat has been distorted by heteronormative assumptions. As

such, her essay is a formidably well-informed example of the sort of constructive hybrid analysis, working across cultural theory, environmental toxicology and popular environmentalism, ecocriticism can be. Moreover, she is unambiguous in her support for regulation of HAAs and her condemnation of the reluctance of the United States (along with Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Italy and Malaysia) to ratify the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Yet she also critiques reference to the effects of HAAs on gender and sexual expression because it allegedly normalises their other effects (such as causing cancer) whilst reinforcing queer-fear among humans. For example, detailing the courageous work of African-American toxicologist Tyrone Hayes in identifying and publicising the endocrine-disrupting effects of the herbicide atrazine, Di Chiro applauds his scientific work and environmental justice orientation. However, she also criticises him for starting out, in his Silent Spring to Silent Night presentation, by acknowledging the support of his wife and children, and emphasising the disruption to sexual dimorphism in leopard frogs with a large, red Not Normal label over an image of a transsection displaying hermaphrodite sex organs. In doing so, she says, Hayes creates the impression that atrazines greatest danger is the threat to gender norms, the family and the stability of the [sic] society (loc.2758). Watching the presentation on YouTube, it is clear that some of Hayess jokes are mildly heteronormative (along the lines of scary, right guys?), but Di Chiro is wrong to indict him for it. For one thing, he does not succumb to biological heteronormativity, pointing out that hermaphroditism and gender-shifting can naturally occur in fish; just not in leopard frogs, in whom it really is not normal. For another, much of his presentation actually focuses on gestational retardation and immune suppression caused by pesticide pollution, not hermaphrodite frogs. There seems no reason to suppose such a nuanced narrative either normalises non-sexual environmental harm or pathologises queers. Di Chiro concludes by preferring a discourse of health, as here when she poses the million-dollar question for all queer ecologists: Can the environmental coalitions we develop succeed in calling for stronger environmental protections, the right to a healthy body, and the need for sustainable communities in such a way that resists appeals to normalcy and normativity? (loc.3041) As we have seen, she tends to overstate the extent to which environmentalists like Hayes rely on normality. More importantly, I would argue that, with respect to sex differentiation (which Di Chiro admits is an important marker), it is impossible to define health without an appeal to existing norms. Leopard frogs are no more meant to be hermaphrodites than they

would naturally or healthily exhibit low birth weight or enfeebled immune systems. Id be delighted if Di Chiros question could be answered at once positively and rigorously, but I doubt it can be. Luckily, I suspect most of us are less than minutely attentive to the buried intersections cultural critics are capable of discerning, and can therefore combine acceptance of human sexual diversity and opposition to oestrogenic pollution without being unhinged by the subtle contradiction. Reading this monumental collection, I was struck by two things. First and I hesitate to say it out loud I noticed a significant difference between the lesbian and the gay-centred contributions: the latter (Ingram, Gosine, Erickson) are relatively trivial in environmental terms, focusing on outdoor sex and cruising as opposed to the serious and properly environmental lesbian intentional communities discussed by Nancy Unger. The lesbian authors seem to get environmentalism, in short. When Catriona Mortimer-Sandilandss essay crosses over to discuss film-maker Derek Jarman, she provides the most convincing account of gay ecology in the volume (although I think she underestimates his High Tory antimodernist love of England). The second observation is that, precisely because the collection is so substantial, wide-ranging, and yet somewhat repetitive, one wonders if this apotheosis does not also mark the exhaustion of queer ecology. It is hard to see what, beyond further illustrations of the positions set out here, it might yet accomplish. The Unbearable Lightness of Being Green: Deconstruction and Ecocriticism When the Oxford Literary Review, bastion of deconstructive critique among UK journals, publishes a special on Deconstruction, Environmentalism and Climate Change (32:1), you know that the backpacker school of literary criticism has made it into the intellectual salon. With one or two outstanding exceptions, though, it has been rendered unrecognisable in the process: a couple of odd, interesting pieces on Bruno Latour and Robert Pogue Harrison aside (neither of them deconstructive in any way I can discern), the essays are only remotely familiar with ecocriticism (apart from their touchstone, the work of Timothy Morton), environmentalism, ecology or climate change science, but cosy up intimately with the canonical texts and irritating stylistic tics of Anglophone Derrideans. The collection is redeemed by Timothy Clarks piece, with which I conclude: one of the most intellectually honest and insightful works of ecocritical analysis to date. The worst examples of inward-looking essays are Roy Sellarss Waste and Welter: Derridas Environment and Tom Cohens The Geomorphic Fold: Anapocalyptics, Changing Climes and Late Deconstruction, both of them far more interested in Jacques Derridas lack

of comment on climate change or anything else ecological than one might imagine possible. Indeed, Cohen makes a three course meal of the absence and the discussion it has spawned after the masters death, asking: Might a labour of consignation evident in the aprs Derridaa turn accelerated by public rituals of mourninghave led elsewhere than to the auto-immune phase one witnesses today: that is, not turning to the exegetical normalisation of Derridas writings to the point of recommending, as some legacy-keepers now do, the retirement of deconstruction with a full focus on Derrida studies, a Derrideanism without deconstruction that ennobles the proper name? (p.72-3) This is, I think, a stinging (if prolix) rebuke to Derridas intellectual grave-tenders and the auto-immune phase they have initiated, in which apparently hagiographic orthodoxies are being rigorously enforced. Who knew? The indictment of what Cohen amusingly calls zombie deconstruction is mitigated somewhat by the subjunctive mood and quaestio, which is now framed as merely the possibility of a different path one in which a deconstruction without Derrida would blink, look about the new 21st century horizons, and instead ask (as if anew) what [it] would do before these horizons, neither those of metaphysics nor institutions, but material, biomorphic, geomorphic horizons, as if from outside, from without the human enclave altogether and without faceneither other nor wholly other, since processual and banal? (p.73) For those that missed it, Cohen is alluding to climate change. It is a topic that ecocriticism has, quite embarrassingly, failed to address in a manner proportionate to the threat. Partly the failure is because there are few serious works of literature, especially fiction or poetry, about it (Ian McEwans Solar is best forgotten, as quickly as possible), so completely does climate change overwhelm all the assumptions about geographical and temporal scale, ethical and political agency and empirical representability those forms typically embody. By contrast, deconstructive critics, who never showed the slightest interest in the environment on any smaller scale, have moved rapidly to exploit the affinity between their procedures and the limitations (or excesses) climate change imposes on thought and representation. Nature abhors a vacuum, and deconstruction has moved in aptly enough to fill this one. In the case of Cohens essay the yield of insight into climate change (as opposed to the furious factionalism of deconstructionists) is terribly small considering how little fun it is to read. I struggled on your behalf, dear reader, over and again with claims like this, to little avail:

climate change arrives as a hyperreferential, a ruthlessly positive opportunity, the contretemps of contretemps, invisibly welling up from within an-archival programs and interstices. (p.85) Im pretty sure it means climate change is an unknown unknown, in Donald Rumsfelds epistemology, which makes it especially exciting for deconstruction. At least there is one really significant statement in the essay: This destruction is not apocalyptic at all. That is: there is no calamitous instant precisely, no revelation, and it is in its way irreducibly banala matter of chemical compositions, physics, molecules, biomass, and the feeding of energy off organic waste of dead terrestrial species, a form of necrophagy. (p.77) I quite like the image of a fossil fuel economy as necrophagy, and the rest of the point is true and important, but Im not sure it justifies the construction of a neologism (anapocalyptics). Much of the rest is concerned with the difference between climate change and the spectre of destruction that haunted Derrida: nuclear annihilation. Even here, though, Cohen treats the global environmental crisis as something we have only just noticed as he evidently has: And who would expect or think, in the early eighties and before, that rather than the hypothetical nuclear strike between a binarized standoff modelled on war, recognition, and the pleasures of annihilation, there might be a relentless shrinkage of earths asss [sic?] skin of surfaces and biosystems, a dispossession that would proceed from the ground up, as a slow, miserable population culling over decades? (p.81-2) Well, there were quite a few of them; they were called environmentalists. The overwhelming impression is that Cohen considers climate change of interest primarily because he hopes to co-opt it onto his side in the War of Derridean Succession. Should that climatic disruption in a teacup hold the key to the global one, I would consider the dreary task of reading it worthwhile, but theres no evidence of that so far. As for Timothy Morton, whose Ecology as Text, Text as Ecology is included in the OLR special, following him around pedantically sorting out his exaggerations and errors is starting to feel like having one of the less attractive jobs at Disney World the one that involves following a horse with a big scoop. There is also more than a little dj lu for the reader of this essay alongside The Ecological Thought and Mortons PMLA essay Queer Ecology: repeated arguments, examples, jokes, paragraphs of text I think the kids these days call it a remix. The pace is, as usual, dizzying, taking the reader from fractals to RNA World to symbiogenesis to the extended phenotype to Gdels Incompleteness Theorem in just over a dozen pages. Again, there is no reference to any ecology; when Morton explains what ecology shows us,

readers should mentally substitute microbiology, because that is where all the examples come from. And they are indeed transfixingly exciting, rather like a BBC Earth documentary but, by contrast with an Attenborough show, enervating to those of us whose main concern is, frankly, the fate of medium-sized animals, beloved habitats and human communities, not chloroplasts or viroids. The loose analogy of ecology and text popular with some ecocritics keeps us, Morton argues, from the more profound recognition that Life forms cannot be said to differ in a rigorous way from texts (p.1), and that therefore The difference between what counts as a mere metaphor and what counts as non-metaphorical reality collapses when thinking engages text [i.e. deconstruction] seriously (p.2-3). The first remarkable claim requires that we accept that texts are the algorithmic expression of what Julia Kristeva calls genotexts (by analogy with genomes), which sounds a lot like a last-gasp resuscitation of structuralism under a scientific rubric. (In between genotexts and texts come human brains, of course, whose evolved biases and messy complications (post)structuralists and psychoanalysts have never enjoyed. Brains and their funny predilections are the main reason text keeps sliding back to work, and scriptor to author.) The second argument seems to imply that there is nothing at all to choose between the celebration of the balance of nature in a poem and the weight of evidence from ecology that, in reality, it is not a viable metaphor. Mortons conclusion that really there are only genomes/genotexts and the biosphere and everything in between is epiphenomenal would seem staggeringly reductive were it not presented with overtly emancipatory mood music, a dash of Buddhism and a torrent of geewhiz examples. The Charles Bernstein poem Morton discusses, this poem intentionally left blank, is far better suited to his argument that the poor Ancient Mariner was, but the significance of the brief amusement it affords is exaggerated. The textual self-reference of the poem is elevated, absurdly, to what Morton calls self-awareness, provoking yet another series of increasingly breathless rhetorical questions: What if intentionality were an effect of performance? What if it was over there, in language itself, not in here, inside me, my most precious possession? If this poem is self aware, why couldnt worms be? (p.11) Discombobulating though these possibilities are, they neglect the obvious point that Bernsteins poem merely combines deictic language with paradox in a way that human brains find quite weird (much like Yoko Onos line This is not here, which Morton cites portentously). In just the same way, deconstructionists have taken Keatss mildly unsettling poem This Living Hand to suggest that it affords him an uncanny afterlife so long as an

appropriately literate human brain is reading it. Deictic language, so handy and uncomplicated in spoken language, seems to produce a freaky flickering of absence/presence when written down and then read later on, but there is no need to drag worms into it. Unlike some of the more blatantly opportunistic pieces collected in OLR, Timothy Clarks essay, understatedly titled Some Climate Change Ironies: Deconstruction, Environmental Politics and the Closure of Ecocriticism, understands ecocriticism intimately, if not always empathetically, and is at the same time willing to expose deconstruction to what it proved unable to acknowledge: In Derrida, the falsely circumscribed context of deconstructions happening enables a far more manageable (if already impossible) conception of what the political sphere is and the agencies that inhabit it. Against this, the closure of epoch associated with recognition of the finitude of the earth opens up or renders unignorable a new front of deconstructive effects. (p.135) The phenomenon Clark goes on to delineate is what I would like to call, following Milan Kundera, the unbearable lightness of being green, in which Numerous acts of individual unimportance or insignificance mutate into an impersonal geological force (p.135). The more humans there are, the more the impact of our species is amplified but the less significance one can attribute to individual agency. What plagues us now is not the weight of a moral decision, but the combination of its vanishing lightness (I am 1 in 7 billion albeit hefted a good deal by wealth) and appalling banality (whether to switch a light off or cycle to work). As Clark also explains in his excellent Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment (reviewed elsewhere), the list of things that count as an environmental issue proliferates unmanageably: A list might include: day to day assumptions about life style, the voting trends of various countries, the fuel efficiency of modern cars and heating systems, population trends and sexual habits, definitions of the good life, the nature of money and exchange, the aspirations of the poor, the politics of national sovereignty, the impersonal demands ofadvanced infrastructures that imprison their inhabitants in a kind of energy slavery (William Ophuls), the size of households, the melting threshold of arctic tundra and the exact nature of innumerable other unknown or badly understood biological, meteorological and chemical processes, and so on. (p.136) Whereas earlier I criticised Gosines piece on population and gay cruising for lacking a sense of proportion, here I can only applaud Clarks clear-eyed and principled recognition of the derangements of scale climate change inflicts on us: Collapsing the broadest upon the

smallest scale, merging the trivial and the catastrophic, its planetary scale compels us to think and act as if already citizens of a world polity, even as it undermines the credibility of any such thing (p.137). Thus Barack Obama is right to say that we can't solve global warming because I fucking changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective. But he too has been unable to elicit the collective will required to address it within the United States or at COP-15 in Copenhagen. For Clark, climate change fundamentally challenges the rationality of capitalist markets, the procedures of liberal democracy and enlightenment science. So it is not surprising that, in his estimation, the failure of ecocriticism properly to engage with climate change is not merely a contingent, transient phenomenon, but rather exposes our disastrous scale framing of environmental issues in individual and (bio)regional terms: The focus on the individual, whether as green consumer, a reader of an ecocritical argument, or as a backpacker, reinforces the illusion that reality and power remain a matter of individuals pursuing their rights and opinions (do you buy climate change?) (p.141). I would respond that most, if not all, ecocritics can see the limitations of individual action as clearly as Obama, but we are limited by the relatively individualistic and small-scale nature of our work as writers or teachers. Ecocritics have not been in the habit of writing consensus-based policy documents; I think we should. The other two factors Clark identifies as debilitating the response of ecocriticism to climate change are interdisciplinary complexity of the topic and what he calls The outmoded quest for a liberatory method (p.145). On the latter, he is particularly courageous as well as perspicuous, admitting the (short-term) appeal of environmental justice and postcolonial approaches, for which environmental issues can be held to be addressed by engaging questions of equity among human beings (p.145), but also asserting that Climate change may mark the closure or exhaustion of modes of environmental politics embedded in the modernist, liberal tradition (p.146). Ecocritics might attack the over-consumption of the west, but few if any are prepared to combine such critique with calls to slow population growth, let alone to admit the possibility that the cherished objectives of capitalist liberal democracy are themselves ecocidal: As a possible global catastrophe arising from innumerable mostly trivial or innocent individual actions, including some which seem politically taboo, such as increased material prosperity, an expanding population or increased longevity, climate change does not present any one easily identifiable antagonist. Its causes are diffuse, partly unpredictable and separated from their effects by huge gaps in space and time. Climate

change entangles itself with other environmental problems that seem to present no acceptable solutionthe demands, for instance, of an expanding population for new and safely inhabitable space as against the claims to preservation of the habitats of increasingly scarce animals or plants. Can western eco-critics comfortably inhabit a stance from which to engage the environmental degradation latent in the hopes of millions of people in the Far East planning to buy a first car? (p.146) Yet the only alternative, as Clark avers, seems to be some sort of eco-fascism. He does not pretend to have a solution, but for me he has confronted the fundamental problem for ecocriticism with a bracing clarity of vision unequalled in anything else I have read. He conveys more powerfully than any other writer the seriousness, and the elusiveness, of global environmental crisis: the unbearable lightness of being green. Books Reviewed Alaimo, Stacy. Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self. IndUP. [2010] pp.216. pb 16.99. ISBN 0253222400 Cusack, Christine (ed). Out of the Earth: Ecocritical Readings of Irish Texts. CorkUP. [2010] pp.286. hb 35.00. ISBN 1859184545 DeLoughrey, Elizabeth and George Handley (eds). Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment. OUP. [2010] pb. 15.99. ISBN 0195394437 Huggan, Graham and Helen Tiffin. Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment. Routledge. [2010] pp.256. pb 20.99. ISBN 0415344581 Mortimer-Sandilands, Catriona and Bruce Erickson (eds). Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire. IndUP. [2010] pp.424. Kindle 16.63. ASIN B0046ECCDE Morton, Timothy. The Ecological Thought. HarvardUP. [2010] pp.184. pb 14.95. ISBN 0674064224 Mukherjee, Upamanyu Pablo. Postcolonial Environments: Nature, Culture, and the Contemporary Indian Novel in English. Palgrave. [2010] pp.216. hb 52.50. ISBN 0230219373 Parham, John. Green Man Hopkins: Poetry and the Victorian Ecological Imagination. Rodopi. [2010] pp.310. hb 56.00. ISBN 9042031069 Roos, Bonnie and Alex Hunt (eds). Postcolonial Green: Environmental Politics and World Narratives. UPVirginia. [2010] pp.320. pb 27.95. ISBN 0813930014