“She Moves Through Deep Corridors”: Mobility and Settler Colonialism in Sharon Doubiago’s Proletarian Eco-Epic Hard Country
This article analyzes Sharon Doubiago’s American long poem Hard Country (1982) from the joined perspectives of ecocriticism and mobility studies. It argues that Hard Country is a proletarian eco-epic that rethinks human-nature relations from a working-class perspective shaped by different kinds of (im)mobility. In my analysis, I show how the text revises the American epic tradition by foregrounding working-class people’s desire for meaningful relationships to place in light of histories of environmental injustice and displacement. Doubiago’s text promotes traditional place-based notions of belonging, but it also challenges ideas about what kind of sense of place can be environmentally suggestive. In doing so, it allows for the emergence of a proletarian “ecopoetics of mobility” (Gerhardt) that emphasizes the bodily experiences of Doubiago’s mobile narrator as well as U.S.-American histories and cultures of mobility. Among these cultures of mobility, settler colonialism stands out as a system of violent domination and form of environmental injustice (Whyte) that calls into question working-class people’s desire to move or settle on dispossessed indigenous lands. As such, settler colonialism poses a challenge to Doubiago’s proletarian ecopoetics of mobility, which must engage with the fact that white working-class people in the United States have always been perpetrators as well as victims of both environmental and mobility injustice.
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