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The Water Wars Novel
Open AccessArticle

Dry Country, Wet City: A World-Ecological Reading of Drought in Thea Astley’s Drylands

Discipline of English, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030079
Received: 6 January 2020 / Revised: 13 February 2020 / Accepted: 16 July 2020 / Published: 11 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue World Literature and the Blue Humanities)
Using a postcolonial and world-ecological framework, this article analyses the representation of water as an energy source in Thea Astley’s last and most critically acclaimed novel Drylands (1999). As environmental historians have argued, the colonial, and later capitalist, settlement of Australia, particularly the arid interior, was dependent on securing freshwater sources—a historical process that showed little regard for ecological impact or water justice until recent times. Drylands’ engagement with this history will be considered in relation to Michael Cathcart’s concept of ‘water dreaming’ (2010): the way in which water became reimagined after colonization to signify the prospect of economic growth and the consolidation of settler belonging. Drylands self-consciously incorporates predominant modes of ‘water dreaming’ into its narrative, yet resists reducing water to a passive resource. This happens on the level of both content and form: while its theme of drought-induced migration is critical of the past, present, and future social and ecological effects of the reckless extraction of freshwater, its nonlinear plot and hybrid form as a montage of short stories work to undermine the dominant anthropocentric colonial narratives that underline technocratic water cultivation. View Full-Text
Keywords: Australian literature; world-ecology; blue humanities; world literature; ecocriticism; postcolonial ecocriticism Australian literature; world-ecology; blue humanities; world literature; ecocriticism; postcolonial ecocriticism
MDPI and ACS Style

Cahillane, A. Dry Country, Wet City: A World-Ecological Reading of Drought in Thea Astley’s Drylands. Humanities 2020, 9, 79.

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