<b>Environmental Imaginations of the California Channel Islands and Ecological Crisis in T.C. Boyle's <i>When the Killing's Done</i></b> // Imaginaciones medioambientales de las Islas del Canal y la crisis ecológica en <i>When the Killing’s Done</i>

  • Susanne Leikam American Studies, University of Regensburg, Germany
Keywords: California Channel Islands, ecological crisis, T.C. Boyle, When the Killing's Done, islas del Canal, crisis ecológica

Abstract

This article explores T.C. Boyle’s thirteenth novel When the Killing’s Done (2011) in regard to its representation of ecological crisis and the ensuing environmental activism. In particular, it argues that the distinctly urban background and way of life of the two main protagonists, National Park Service staff member Alma Boyd Takesue and radical eco-hipster Dave LaJoy, foster environmental imaginations of the California Channel Islands that underestimate the centuries-long agricultural uses of the islands and romanticize the islands’ ecosystems as pristine ‘wilderness.’ While this perception in the tradition of the ‘American cult of wilderness’ prompts Alma and the National Park Service to reestablish a historical state of the islands’ ecosystems through the calculated extermination of invasive species, eco-activist Dave fiercely fights for the right of every non-human animal to live. Ultimately, the novel deconstructs both these endeavors to biodiversity and animal rights as highly flawed and environmentally as well as ethically inconsistent.

 

Resumen

 

Este artículo explora la decimotercera novela de T. C. Boyle con el título When the Killing’s Done (2011) en cuanto a la representación de la crisis ecológica y al consiguiente activismo ecologista. En particular, afirma que el fondo y la forma de vida claramente urbanos de los dos protagonistas principales, Alma Boyd Takesue, miembro del personal del Servicio de Parques Nacionales, y Dave LaJoy, un eco-hipster radical, fomentan imaginaciones medioambientales de las islas California Channel Islands que subestiman los largos siglos de uso agrícola de las islas e idealizan los ecosistemas de las islas como ‘naturaleza virgen.’ Mientras esta percepción en la tradición del “culto americano de naturaleza virgen” anima a Alma y al Servicio de Parques Nacionales a restablecer un estado histórico de los ecosistemas de las islas a través del exterminio deliberado de especies invasoras, el eco-activista Dave lucha decididamente por el derecho de todos los animales no-humanos a vivir. En última instancia, la novela deconstruye ambos esfuerzos por la biodiversidad y los derechos de los animales como muy imperfectos e inconsistentes tanto ambiental como éticamente. 

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Author Biography

Susanne Leikam, American Studies, University of Regensburg, Germany

University of Regensburg, Germany

susanne.leikam@ur.de

Susanne Leikam is currently assistant professor of American Studies at the American Studies Department at the University of Regensburg, Germany. Her dissertation titled Framing Spaces in Motion: Tracing Visualizations of Earthquakes into Twentieth-Century San Francisco is forthcoming at the publishing house Winter in fall 2014. She has also recently edited a special issue for Amerikastudien/American Studies on visual culture and (natural) calamities Iconographies of the Calamitous in American Visual Culture 58.4 (2013). Her research interests include disaster studies, ecocriticism/nature, visual culture studies, memory studies, food studies, and literary studies. She is currently working on her new book project located in the nexus of environmental justice and transnational American studies.

 

Published
2014-03-21
Section
Articles: General Section