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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Migrant ecocriticism : unbinding movements and spaces in anthologies of ecopoetry Chua, Rina Garcia


In the environmental humanities, curating ecopoetry into anthologies has been transformative in defining what ecopoetry is and the extent of its scope. Yet, ecopoetry anthologies have often un/consciously valorized the concept of “place” and, at times, legitimized the colonial standards of a Euro-American literary canon. The territorialized discourse of ecocriticism has created a deep divide in its goals for an environmental discourse beyond the academic institution. On that note, ecocriticism is also a radical and outward-looking field eager to acknowledge the gaps in its foundation, and is working towards scholarship, art, and activism that are responsive to multiple interpretations of our relationships with the “environment.” This dissertation analyses ten selected ecopoetry anthologies—Earth Shattering: Ecopoems (ed. Neil Astley); Here: Poems for the Planet (ed. Elizabeth J. Coleman); Wild Reckoning: an anthology provoked by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (eds. John Burnside and Maurice Riordan); Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (ed. Melissa Tuckey); Open Wide a Wilderness: Canadian Nature Poem (ed. Nancy Holmes); Regreen: New Canadian Ecological Poetry (eds. Madhur Anand and Adam Dickinson); The Ecopoetry Anthology (eds. Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura-Gray Street); Sustaining the Archipelago: An Anthology of Philippine Ecopoetry (ed. Rina Garcia Chua); Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (ed. Camille Dungy), and When the Light of the World was Subdued, our Songs Came Through (ed. Joy Harjo)—using a migrant reading practice. A migrant reading practice is a methodology that acknowledges generalized experiences and metanarratives that shape ecopoetry anthologies but insists upon the singularity of an anthology’s curation, the collated ecopoetry, and their counternarratives. Using a method of personal scholarly narratives, this dissertation argues a critical migrant reading practice as a radical method to reimagining, reconceptualizing, and reconstructing the future and value of an ecopoetry anthology in the environmental humanities to deconstruct territorialized and Euro-American concepts in ecocriticism. A Migrant Ecocriticism is a timely and compelling framework in this world of increasingly politicized and polarized migration of humans and more-than-humans across walls, seas, national borders, and the boundaries of fragmented habitats.

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