Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Routes Beyond Roots : Alternative Ecological Histories in Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies

Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru

Abstract


This article will read Amitav Ghosh's novel Sea of Poppies as an account of "world histories from below" (Antoinette Burton, 2012) and position the writing of alternative histories of the colonial times within an ecocritical context. While such rewritings have always been a central preoccupation of postcolonial literature, the recent tendency has been to look at history from increasingly local, individualised perspectives. I will examine Ghosh's tracing of routes and connectivities across the Indian Ocean at the time immediately preceding the opium wars, focusing on his reconsideration of human relationships and hierarchies in an ecocritical perspective. This perspective cuts across boundaries established by caste, class, biology, geography and the colonial system, which Ghosh has long been interested in re-evaluating. While on board the Ibis identities become deterritorialised and fluid, they are disconnected from their roots and paths established by rigid culturally conditioned frameworks. Connections are established between the human and other forms of life, forming a continuum across the trade routes of the Indian Ocean, which becomes a fluid space of rebuilding identities. I will use a theoretical framework informed by Bruno Latour's concept of a politics of nature, Donna Haraway's nature-culture negotiations and Rosi Braidotti's eco-conscious ethics.

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