3.1. Pining down the “Unknown” and Familiarizing the “Known”
Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide
is set in the fickle tidal landscape or bhatir desh
of the Sundarbans where the passage of the ebb tide leaves an ever-mutating and unpredictable terrain with “no borders to divide fresh water from salt, river from sea as “… the water tears away entire promontories and peninsulas; at other times it throws up new shelves and sandbars where there were none before” (Ghosh 2004, p. 7
). In this indeterminate fluid fictional space of the Sundarbans, narrated from an outsider’s perspective, Ghosh takes the reader-voyager on a literary journey across the Gangetic delta that reveals the varied quests, travels, expeditions and voyages of the protagonists in the eco-narrative. The mighty River Hooghly dictates the literary journey in the novel as it meanders, changes course, reshapes land before sunrise and reconfigures them with new paths before sunset. During its ever-shifting course, the River Hooghly intertwines with the River Meghna, thus setting the theme of transformation for the human and animal inhabitants who adapt to the capricious river trajectories and deal with the challenging task of “naming” new, fresh, ever-emerging islands each day. The passage of tides and seasons prompt the Sundarbans Orcaella, the cetacean dolphin protagonists in the novel, to adapt their seasonal behavior to tidal ecology, fit them into the daily cycle of tides, swimming back and forth to the quiet Hooghly-Meghna river pools at day with the dawn ebb, and racing back to the stormy Bay of Bengal at night fall.
In The Hungry Tide
, Ghosh speculates on the origin of the name of the mangrove forests, the “Sundarbans” and the anthropological, botanical, geo-tidal and historical influences in the bearing of its name.
“There is no prettiness here to invite the stranger in: yet, to the world at large this archipelago is known as “the Sundarban”, which means, “the beautiful forest”. There are some who believe the word to be derived from the name of a common species of mangrove—the sundari tree, Heriteria minor. But the word’s origin is no easier to account for than is its present prevalence, for in the record books of the Mughal emperors this region is named not in reference to a tree but to a tide – bhati. And to the inhabitants of the islands this land is known as bhatir desh—the tide country—except that bhati is not just the “tide” but one tide in particular, the ebb-tide, the bhata: it is only in falling that the water gives birth to the forest. To look upon this strange parturition, midwived by the moon, is to know why the name “tide country” is not just right but necessary.”
“Naming” the tidal country as “beautiful” strikes the reader as both ironical and pertinent with the coincidental botanical and sematic reference to the sundari tree that bequeaths the name of the Sundarbans to the tidal mangrove forests in the Bengal basin. However, pinpointing the etymological route proves elusive in spite of Mughal attempts at documentation as tidal history of the web tide since “unrecorded” and “undocumented” time designates the ebb-tide as the force that sustains existence and rebirth in a world that depended on the waxing and the waning of the moon’s lunar cycle. Like the sundari tree that lends its name to the Sundarbans, the garjon tree named and referred to in the novel, offers its botanical tag to the settlement of Garjontola, thus highlighting the fact that onomatopoeic references are often absent in the tidal country as the word signifying “garjon” or roar of a tiger’s cry hold no meaning in the etymological lay of the fictional land. Ghosh also puts forward the idea that the re-naming of places is often confusing as in Kanai Dutt’s occasional slip regarding the references to Calcutta as Kolkata. By sorting ideas and reserving the use of “Calcutta” for references to the past, and “Kolkata” for references to the present, the reader-voyager also does a simultaneous categorizing of references to the past and the present during the literary journey. Furthermore, the process of naming is a ritual in the fictional space to pin down the “unknown” and familiarize the “known”.
“… she had been somewhat intrigued by this so far shown little interest in pointing to things and telling her their Bengal names. She had been somewhat intrigued by this for, in her experience, people almost automatically went through a ritual of naming when they were with a stranger of another language.”
To Piya, the American-born Indian cetologist, “naming” becomes a ritual of familiarization, though peculiarly transient and ephemeral in nature as in the tidal country, transitory land and scarce human belonging are subject to daily immersions and systematic re-naming. In The Hungry Tide
, the processes of “naming” and “re-naming” are accompanied by a dual attempt to “classify”, “categorize” and “label” cetacean aquatic life and different ecological niches of varying degrees of salinity and turbidity that had escaped the microscopic lens of avid botanists and zoologists the world over due to the nature of the dense, impenetrable forests. Piya’s attempts to distinguish the patterns of behavior of the Orcaella brevirostris
and its cousin, Orcaella fluminalis
lead to a fascinating discovery of unknown local species from gargantuan crocodiles to microscopic fish existing in floating biodomes filled with endemic, rare and botanically unclassified flora and fauna in the marshy estuarine areas of the Sundarbans. While recording the teeming marine ecology, Piya highlights the eco-sensitive existence of micro-environments with their own patterns of life, floating midstream and wafting back to shore or retreating into deep islands only to re-emerge with new aquatic forms of life that baffled human attempts at scientific and systematic “naming” and “labelling”. Piya’s nomadic expedition highlights detailed water depth, underwater concavities, tides, currents of the so-far un-named Sundarbans aquatic ecology and focuses on how these variables speak for the dynamic, unstable interrelation between numerous “microenvironments” of floating biodomes of endemic aquatic life forms. Through the act of naming un-named species, Piya resists being categorized as a subaltern Indian or the lowest level of social hierarchy. In Spivak’s article “Can the Subaltern Speak?”, oppressed minorities characterized as Other are restricted by their linguistic competences, are denied the access to hegemonic power and do not have the opportunity of self-representation. Unlike Spivak’s contention that “epistemic violence” obstructs, undermines non-Western methods or approaches to knowledge and that “… the subaltern has no history and cannot speak, the subaltern as female is even more deeply in shadow” (Morris and Spivak 2010, p. 28
), Ghosh’s eco-critical fiction lays stress on the interconnected nature of different life forms and Piya’s quest to name un-named species can be considered as a creative endeavor to consider how these ecologically connected groups can be creatively transformed. Through the process of naming unidentified Western species, Piya resists the dominant Western narrative by creating a new form of representation. Ghosh’s postcolonial narrative aims at showing how victims of colonial exploitation through their subaltern ways of resistance voice protest against the power imbalance between the colonist and the colonial subject, thus portraying a form of resistance described by Bill Ashcroft in Postcolonial Transformation
where subaltern resistance could find an outlet as “any form of defense in which an invader is ‘kept out’” (as) “these subtle and more widespread forms of saying ‘no’ that are most interesting because they are most difficult for imperial powers to combat” (Ashcroft 2001, p. 20
In an article written in 2004 entitled “Greening Postcolonialism: Eco-Critical Perspectives”, Graham Huggan explains that in line with the growing concern for environmental and ecological problems on a global scale, it is inevitable that postcolonial literatures engage with these aspects of colonialism. He refers to the issues linked to “… the inseparability of current crises of ecological mismanagement from historical legacies of imperialistic and authoritarian abuse” (Huggan 2004, p. 702
). Viewed in this light, Ghosh’s fiction can be considered as a site where environmental and ecological issues are effectively problematized in relation to the hostile natural environment of the Sunderbans and the fragile ecological balance that must be maintained in a land of unpredictable ebb and flow tides. It is interesting to consider Huggan’s views on the increasing traffic between eco-critical and postcolonial literary studies. He observes that the “green” turn in postcolonialism was a sign of the scholars’ admission that it was impossible to analyze modern imperialism and colonialism without engaging with the massive scale of environmental devastation that they entail. It is thus evident that in Ghosh’s fictional enterprise while configuring a postcolonial green, he lays stress on the interconnected nature of different life forms and Piya’s quest to name un-named species can be considered as a creative endeavor to consider how these ecologically connected groups can be creatively transformed. In The Hungry Tide
, Ghosh highlights how human lives are valued less than those of their tiger inhabitants in the Sunderbans. In the name of preservation, environmental injustice favors the existence of man-eating tigers, leaving humans at the mercy of governmental efforts to implement Project Tiger
“That tiger had killed two people, Piya,’ Kanai said. ‘And that was just in one village. It happens every week that people are killed by tigers. How about the horror of that? If there were killings on that scale anywhere else on the earth it would be called a genocide, and yet here it goes almost unremarked: these killings are never reported, never written about in the papers. And the reason is just that these people are too poor to matter. We all know it, but we choose not to see it. Isn’t that a horror too—that we can feel the suffering of an animal, but not of human beings?”
The episode in the novel seeks to highlight the imbalance which exists between tigers that maul and consume helpless humans who are defenseless prey as they dare not retaliate. Governmental efforts to protect the tiger species result in large-scale killings that Kanai names as “genocide”. Through metaphors of blindness to human suffering and the consequent numbing of senses and feeling, the incident in the novel shows how in the name of common good, governments have unthinkingly rendered the UNESCO heritage site of the Sundarbans, “inhabitable” for man, but “hospitable”, “reserved” and “protected” for the tiger species. In this context, it should be remembered that the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve was created in 1973 to save the dwindling numbers of the fast-disappearing species and the reserve was declared a World Heritage site in 1997 to preserve the mangrove habitat and vegetation essential for its survival. However, efforts at ecological protection to save tigers and protect forests often disadvantage indigenous people who farm, forage, fish, subsist on nature, and struggle to preserve their village lifestyle from external intrusion. It is interesting to consider how international pressure on postcolonial states to conserve flora and fauna has resulted in a mutiny between ecologists who wish to prioritize the environment over all human needs, and social justice proponents who argue that human equity must precede green conservation and preservation. In the novel, Ghosh also seeks to show how governmental proposals to create an eco-tourist haven in the Sundarbans at the expense of rare species, is typical of the selfish human decision to survive at the expense of animal deterioration and “… exploiting nature while minimizing non-human claims to a shared earth” (Huggan and Tiffin 2010, p. 5
3.2. Articulating Resistance through an Eco-Narrative
In the Ibis Trilogy
, Ghosh’s eco-narrative in the troubled waters of the South China Sea, the reader witnesses the tryst between two storm-tossed vessels: the Anahita, a sumptuously built cargo ship laden with opium and owned by the Bombay merchant Bahram Modi; and the Redruth, a two-masted vessel with a Cornish botanist searching for rare plants such as the golden camellia and Paulette his assistant who nurtures and takes cares of the flora during the stormy journey. In Sea of Poppies
, the orphaned Paulette catalogued the Plants of Bengal and contributed to the body of collected knowledge called as the Materia Medica while in the sequel River of Smoke
, Paulette, is discovered living in the ruins of a botanical garden by the famous plant hunter, Fitcher Penrose. They join forces to search for a species of rare camellia and seek newer vistas through botanical exploration. Penrose is portrayed as a plant hunter who had made a fortune through the marketing of seeds, saplings, plants, cutting and horticultural implements. His fortune earned through honest means was thanks to the sale of Chinese importations of plumbago, flowering quince and winter sweet. His visit to the Botanical Gardens of Pamplemousses in Port Louis traces the exploits of similar minded founders and curators in botanical history such as Pierre Poivre, who had identified the true black pepper or that of Philibert Commerson, the discoverer of bougainvillea. Ghosh details the route of pilgrimage undertaken by early horticulturists to the Pamplemousses garden in his eco-narrative. In Port Louis, Penrose discovers the existence of a chaotic botanical garden where a wild and tangled muddle of greenery showed the existence of a primeval jungle “where African creepers were at war with Chinese trees, nor one where Indian shrubs and Brazilian vines were locked in a mortal embrace. This was a work of Man, a botanical Babel” (Ghosh 2011, p. 39
). The Redruth’s clean, angular and curved lines seem built to weather the high storms and protect effectively the greenery on board. Even though plants bred for nutrition or decoration on sail ships were not an uncommon sight during that period, the Redruth stands apart from the rest with her stack of “Wardian cases” of “glass-fronted boxes with adjustable sides, they were, in effect, miniature greenhouses” (Ghosh 2011, p. 81
). In the greenest section of the quarterdeck, the Redruth had movable awnings designed to provide shade and protection from sunlight and other inclement weather. Due to the presence of ever-thirsty flora on board, Fitcher had even devised a system of rain water collection to not let a single drop to go waste. The sailboat could also boast of unique procedures for dealing with waste as all refuse that could be used as plant nutrition was carefully separated from the remains of the salted meats and tea leaves, coffee grounds, rice, bits of old biscuit and hardtack were all stacked together and dumped into enormous barrels that were suspended over the stern. Each plant on board had been handpicked by Fitcher himself and varied from flora from the Americas to medicinal plants from the Far East.
“Nor was there anything at all haphazard about the Redruth’s cargo. All her plants had been handpicked by Fitcher himself: most were from the Americas and had only recently been introduced to Europe and were thus unlikely yet to have reached China. Amongst this assemblage of flora were antirrhinums, lobelias and georginas, introduced from Mexico by Alexander von Humboldt; also from Mexico were the ‘Mexican Orange’ and a beautiful new fuchsia; from the American Northwest there was Gaultheria shallon, a plant both ornamental and medicinal, and a magnificent new conifer, both introduced by David Douglas—Fitcher was certain that the latter species would appeal especially to the pine loving Chinese. Shrubs were not neglected either: the flowering currant was a species for which Fitcher had very high hopes.”
It is interesting to note Fitcher’s intention of exchanging these American plants for Chinese species that had not yet been introduced to the West. His ability to identify the rare flora of the mangrove forests is however linked to the materialistic intent of selling these plants for gain in richer pastures of the West. He even likens his botanical quest to that of the pursuits of D’Incarville, a Jesuit who had spent several years at the court of the Emperor, in Peking. Like the ingenuous priest who had conceived the idea of proposing a botanical exchange between the French King and his royal counterpart in China, thus bringing into the fictional space the journey made by tulips, cornflowers and columbines through the North China Sea to Europe. One named specimen in the novel of commercial value is Camellia sinensis, which gave camellia tea, and which accounted for “… an enormous proportion of the world’s trade and one-tenth of England’s revenues” (Ghosh 2011, p. 107
). Fitcher’s careful collection of select varieties were based on what he considered as profitable and attractive to English gardeners such as “two varieties of wisteria, a seductive new lily, a fine azalea bush, an unusual primrose, a lustrous camellia and much else” (Ghosh 2011, p. 109
). The Redruth bore the stamp as the “handiwork of a diligent nurseryman—not a man who was a speculative thinker, but rather a practical solver of problems, someone who looked upon Nature as an assortment of puzzles, many of which, if properly resolved, could provide rich sources of profit” (Ghosh 2011, p. 83
). However, at the same time, though materialistic in trade, Fitcher is also portrayed as a man who had eked out his livelihood from flora but had little use for the material gain as “his wealth was a source not of comfort, but of anxiety—it was a burden, similar to the sacks of cabbages that had to be hoarded in the cellar for seasons of scarcity” (Ghosh 2011, p. 84
On the contrary Paulette’s identification of the shrubs and herbs by their botanical names seem only second nature to her. In the fictional space Paulette is the protagonist who voices the need to protect greenery and nature from forces that strive to destroy the landscape. As a child of nature, she had been taught by her father, Pierre Lambert to love nature and consider it as a kind of spiritual striving whereby the quest was to comprehend the inner vitality of each species.
If botany was the Scripture of this religion, then horticulture was its form of worship: tending a garden was, for Pierre Lambert, no mere matter of planting seeds and pruning branches—it was a spiritual discipline, a means of communicating with forms of life that were necessarily mute and could be understood only through a careful study of their own modes of expression—the languages of efflorescence, growth and decay: only thus he had taught Paulette, could human beings apprehend the vital energies that constitute the Spirit of the Earth.
During the passage through the North China Sea, Paulette identifies a large variety of plants and tends them as would a priestess performing a spiritual ritual. Ghosh lays stress on the interconnected nature of different life forms and Paulette’s quest to name un-named flora from Chinese territory that can be considered as a creative endeavor to consider how these ecologically connected groups can be creatively transformed. The ideology of resistance is thus exhibited through the spaces created by the subaltern characters in Sea of Poppies
. The victims of colonial exploitation through their subaltern ways of resistance voice protest against the power imbalance between the colonist and the colonial subject. The mundane tasks of planting, pruning and watering become acts of discipline and a means of communication with mute forms of existence that manifest different kinds of vital energies that constitute the spirit of the Earth. She carefully observes the procedures and protocols on board during times of storms. As Fitcher’s student she learns to identify the causes of wilting by tracing back the ills suffered by the plant to the composition of the earth in which it grew. By conjuring the right mix of “hot” and “cold” soils, she resuscitates wilting plants on the high seas. The sea with its vast quantities of seaweed also offer nature’s cure to the rare plants on board when the botanists dried, ground and applied the mortar “in pinches, as though it were a rare remedy” (Ghosh 2011, p. 103
). In the massive attempt to protect the rare flora, every piece of bone on board was boiled, powdered and transformed into manure rich in lime, magnesia and phosphates. At the same time, the eco-conservationists in the fictional space must deal with the discontent of the seamen on board who regarded the plants as threats to their existence and denied them water in times of scarcity or emptied the pots of precious water when menaced by storms. The reader encounters a multiplicity of voices that express the problems that the world faces today and discovers a plethora of issues that speak of the need to assert a “green” paradigm free of the stamp of lucrative colonial trade.
3.3. The Material Turn—Eco-Narrative versus Eco-Materialism
This study draws inspiration from Benita Parry’s Postcolonial Studies: A Materialistic Critique
and aims at highlighting the violence and imbalance of colonial encounters. While Parry urges critics to orient their analysis towards a more materialistic critique that connects imperialism’s epistemic violence and material aggression, my paper highlights an aspect that is missing in Parry’s argument. Her contention of resistance theory is shaped from a meagre ideological perspective that leaves little room for smaller narratives of resistance. Throughout the work, Parry praises British Marxists’ involvement in the liberation movements and passionately claims that Britain was the place where most of the anticolonial programs took off and where most of the native anti-colonialists had been trained. She thus tends to overlook the contribution of other parts of Europe and America, and she skims over the transnational dimension of anticolonial resistance. My study shows that by depicting the politics of resistance in colonial India in The Hungry Tide
and the Ibis Trilogy
through the lens of little narratives or stories of subalterns, Ghosh leads a materialist, historically circumstanced kind of enquiry. Through a portrayal of the British opium trade in China in the 1830s, Ghosh highlights the material impulses of colonials, the misappropriation of land and natural resources, and the transformation of the landscape from one yielding necessary crops to that of bonded labor producing opium to balance the West’s trade with the East. The eco-narrative strives to remember the materialist past and the suffering of the subalterns, but at the same time aims at criticizing the contemporary political and economic situation in India, thus showing the “need to recall the long histories of injustice, to remember the obstacles in the way of building a just society and always to hold in view the prospect of a future. His eco-critical vision as shown in the Ibis Trilogy
highlights the fact that “… our best hope for universal emancipation lies in remaining unreconciled to the past and unconsoled by the present” (Parry 2005, p. 193
). Through a material ecocritical approach, Ghosh examines “matter both in texts and as a text, trying to shed light on the way bodily natures and discursive forces express their interaction” (Iovino 2014, pp. 2
). However, at the same time, he creates a fictional space whose history traces the opium trade, a story that is partly known and partly guessed. By configuring the British lucrative trade of opium on the Anahita and a simultaneous quest for protecting rare plants and sketches of these plants, Ghosh seeks to illuminate how displaced communities have to deal with hostile forces of natural environment and insensitive governments that ignore human attempts of survival in the name of protecting broader ecological concerns of the planet.
In River of Smoke
, the ocean occupies center stage in the novel’s deigesis. The ocean is the lieu of maritime trade affecting politics on land, agricultural production and environmental policy making. In the novel, the Indian Ocean welcomes sailors from India, China, Mauritius, Europe and the United States, but the trade is colonial with the terms being dictated by the British Empire. This archive of unfair trade still exists in today’s world as seen in the IOR-ARC treaty signed by countries that share the Indian Ocean. Though created with the intention of being a platform for the peoples of the Indian Ocean Region to reconnect with each other, to discover their common heritage and deep-rooted affinities, to celebrate their shared cultural history and chart their own destinies, the free trade association has been criticized for having pitched too high or too low its tariffs and customs barriers. River of Smoke
also reveals the loss of natural habitat and the destruction of the ecosystem during British colonial rule in the 19th century. The rivers in the fictional space bear witness to the destruction of native plants and the forced cultivation of opium poppies for lucrative gain. Interestingly, Fanqui town which in the fictional space is cast as the “threshold of the last and greatest of all the world’s caravanserais” (Ghosh 2011, p. 197
) resembles the contemporary setting in postcolonial countries that have to fight against the trade of illicit drugs. Ghosh’s work is typical of postcolonial ecology where the literary form becomes a critical engagement with an aesthetics of the earth. Ghosh’s literary enterprise with its hidden agenda of social and environmental advocacy is imaginative and serves as a catalyst for social action and exploratory literary analysis into a full-fledged form of engaged cultural critique. In today’s postcolonial India, the cultivation of opium poppies is now regulated with farmers being constrained to produce only the required amount needed for medicinal or research purposes. However, the meagre remuneration offered to its cultivators, has resulted in drug smuggling turning into a lucrative trade. Thus, Ghosh also seeks to show how governmental proposals to create a drug free state at the expense of poor farmers, is typical of contemporary selfish political decisions to frame programs at the expense of the livelihood of poor farmers and exploiting nature while minimizing human claims to a shared earth. He criticizes the policies and government strategies of postcolonial governments where government policies take advantage of poor peasants in the name of common good by appropriating eco-friendly policy labelling.
Through a polyphony of voices of the subaltern in the novel, Ghosh gives precedence to the perspective of the colonized over that of the colonizer. In the Ibis Trilogy
, the recurring line of thought highlights how “opium of course—is a monopoly of British government. Opium pays for everything—hotel, church, governor’s mansion, all are built on opium” (Ghosh 2012
). In this context, it is interesting to consider how the protagonists despite their diverse aims are brought together artificially by the opportunities for profit represented by the opium trade. In Sea of Poppies
, Ghosh’s storylines of the different protagonists reveal the varying intent behind the mass migration of these laborers and their quest for an uncertain dream of prosperity across the Black Water of the Indian Ocean. Due to its bad reputation as a slave-vessel, the Ibis is shunned by honest seamen, but attracts lascars on her desks who were sailors from disparate groups such as “Chinese and East Africans, Arabs and Malays, Bengalis and Goans, Tamils and Arkanese and had nothing in common except the Indian Ocean” (Ghosh 2008
). With the new owner of Burnham Bros recruiting indentured labor for the trip’s onward journey to Mauritius, the destinies of the protagonists coincide and interweave within this context of the opium trade that financed the British Raj in India. The British protagonists in the novel voice the imperial stance of waging the opium war by insisting on the fact that despite the British dislike for war, war was a necessary evil for the balance of trade between Britain and China. Mr Burnham declares, “No one dislikes war more than I do—indeed I abhor it. However, it cannot be denied that there are times when war is not merely just and necessary, but also humane. In China, that time has come: nothing else will do” (Ghosh 2008
). With opium serving as the means of purchasing Chinese silk and tea, the British intent of declaring war for selfish means is cloaked by an announcement of war in the name of freedom.
“The war when it comes, will not be for opium. It will be for the principle: for freedom—for the freedom of trade and for the freedom of the Chinese people.”
In the name of free trade, Burnham supports the British enterprise of waging war as agents in the pursuit of a higher good. Typical of the Orientalist quest of undertaking a “mission civilisatrice” and bringing the gifts of civilization to the so-called uncivilized East, the European position of bringing law and order or free trade or material progress is considered to be a Christian mission. The imperialistic stance of changing the very nature of free trade and taking complete control of opium trade due to its lucrative nature in the name of God further reiterates the British intent to eventually appropriate the monopoly of its cultivation in its colonies. Interestingly, the word “freedom” holds different significances for the protagonists. While Zachary associates freedom as a way of living one’s life free from his former white masters, Burnham voices the feelings of British trade lords who consider freedom as a means of enhancing their lucrative business in colonies. Zachary’s incredulity is evident as he is surprised by the fact that English laws do not outlaw the trade of slaves. In their mission to bring light to the uncivilized East, the British colonial endeavor lacks the “mission civilisatrice” of the Oriental quest. The reference to the African trade of slaves when triangular trade enabled the three-legged journey of exchanging slaves in Africa for guns and brandy, the Middle Passage across the Atlantic to sell the slaves in the West Indies and North America, and the final taking of cargo of rum and sugar to England. The ludicrous reference to a slave in the Carolina free from the autocratic rule of a dark tyrant highlights the British arrogance of assuming that opium could accomplish what sugar and alcohol did for the Americas and Africa.
The perceptive reader is aware that the mechanism of exploitation characteristic of colonial times exists even today in the form of economic, political and social imperialism. Ghosh’s intent of highlighting the material forces and power relations at play in today’s postcolonial context in India is a means of framing an eco-narrative or “greening postcolonialism” with its sub-stories of victims of colonial brutalities. In today’s materialist world, he considers the need to recall the long histories of injustice, to remember the obstacles in the way of building a just society and always to hold in view the prospect of a future. He thus offers a new perspective of concerns and debates that affect the world at large, and the way these issues can be highlighted through eco-narrative versus eco-materialism, eco-critical activism for the preservation of life, environmental advocacy and aesthetics, and brings eco-criticism closer to the material turn by highlighting how narratives and stories contribute to making meaning of the material forces and substance that rule the world.