Bringing the Anthropocene Home: Literature and Ecology in the Latin American Southern Cone
- Author(s): Cash Beare, Lucia
- Advisor(s): Legras, Horacio
- et al.
This project proposes that, in the context of the Anthropocene and the increased awareness of human-caused ecological crisis in western, scientific epistemology, a novel form of subjectivity is called into existence. The “ecological subject” is defined by a double understanding of the self. On the one hand, it is an individuated being, with a personal history, life experience and singular body, and, on the other, an open and permeable entity in constant constitutive exchange with the ecologies of which it is part. Inspired by the work of artist Tomás Saraceno, this project conceptualizes the ecologies we inhabit as “hybrid webs” composed of interconnected and interdependent spheres and networks. The consequence of accepting this understanding of the self and the webs we inhabit is the embodied realization as, Gregory Bateson suggested, that the organism that destroys its environment destroys itself.
The discursive field, as part of the hybrid web, has figured this growing realization through a variety of literary mechanisms and narrative play, which I call “ecopoetics”, thus providing an entrance into the analysis of the formation of this subjectivity. I begin with the activist ecopoetics of the end of the 20th century, with a focus on the work of Eduardo Galeano. I then turn to El viento que arrasa, by Selva Almada, and Falsa calma, by María Sonia Cristoff, to analyze the emergence of an ecopoetics of home that thinks how the webs we inhabit and the structures of power that traverse them manifest in our intimate spheres. Though Distancia de rescate, by Samanta Schweblin, and Fruta podrida, by Lina Meruane, the final chapter focuses on molecular ecopoetics, bringing the analysis to the sphere of the body. The conclusion is that the inherent vulnerability of the subject constituted in exchange with the ecologies it inhabits is exacerbated in today’s differentially toxic hybrid webs.