UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Terrestrial Cosmopolitanism, Posthumanism, and Multispecies Modes of Being in Cereus Blooms at Night Press, Sara V.


Cosmopolitanism has generally been used to describe a philosophy that imagines all humans as citizens of a single “human” community. This article explores a terrestrial cosmopolitanism that challenges the colonial discourse of human exceptionalism by extending the democratization of people to include environmental bodies within their global context, replacing hierarchies with collectivities to reveal humanism’s underrepresented others. Examining interspecies alliances in Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night, I look towards terrestrial cosmopolitanism as an alternative to anthropocentric forms of cosmopolitanism that continue to reinscribe colonialist aspirations and ontologically exclusionary practices. Mootoo’s work decenters how we think about humans and the environment and offers a nuanced depiction of a positive interspecies community that resists harmful humanist taxonomies. Reading the novel’s protagonist, Mala, as a posthuman figure, I argue that her rejection of human language, in conjunction with her nonhuman interactions, positions her as a keeper of collectivity, as she creates a third space of subjectivity in her garden that blurs the boundaries between humans and nonhumans.

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