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The Junkyard in the Jungle: Transnational, Transnatural Nature in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Through the Arc of the Rain Forest

  • Author(s): Simal, Begoña
  • et al.
Abstract

In this new millennium the relatively young field of ecocriticism has had to face important transdisciplinary, transnational, and transnatural challenges. This article attempts to demonstrate how two of the major changes that environmental criticism is currently undergoing, the transnational turn and the transnatural challenge, have both been encoded in Through the Arc of the Rain Forest (1990), the first novel published by Karen Tei Yamashita. I particularly focus on a significant episode in Through the Arc of the Rain Forest, when a peculiar anthropogenic ecosystem is discovered, and interpret it according to Leo Marx’s classic paradigm of “the machine in the garden.” I intend to prove that Yamashita’s novel not only revisits the old master theory but also revamps it by destabilizing the classic human-nature divide inherent in first-wave ecocriticism and by adding the transnational ingredient. Thus, the machine-in-the-garden paradigm is updated in order to incorporate the broadening of current environmental criticism, both literally (globalization) and conceptually (transnatural nature). While at times Marx’s paradigm may metamorphose in intriguing ways, the old trope also corroborates its continuing validity. Though filtered by the sieve of globalization and shaken by the emergence of cyborg ecosystems, “the machine in the garden” has survived as a compelling ecocritical framework, even if it occasionally mutates into a junkyard in the jungle.

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