Postcolonial Nonhuman Blurring (B)orders in Migrant Ecologies: A Postanthropocentric Reading of Amitav Ghosh’s "Gun Island"
Keywords:transcorporeality, myth, migrant ecologies, nonhuman agency, postanthropocentric
Amitav Ghosh’s novel Gun Island (2019) explores the intersection of the nonhuman with 21st century issues pertaining to racial and ecological injustice, ethnic cleansing, environmental catastrophe and migrant ecologies by way of allegorising the myth of Manasa Devi (goddess of snakes and other venomous creatures). A postcolonial ecocritical lens helps analyse how the novelist presents nonhuman actors to contest Western anthropocentric conceptualisations of human subjectivity shaped by historical forces of modernity. By positing a postanthropocentric way of reading the world in order to shape new human subjectivities which do not efface human-nonhuman entanglements, my paper studies how Ghosh recognises agentic capacities and storied matter of the postcolonial nonhuman subject matter by identifying the novel’s subversive negotiations through the tropes of language, embodiment, genre, and everyday environmentalism. I analyse how the contextualisation of the postcolonial nonhuman not only critiques human exceptionalism but destabilises the constructedness of borders in terms of an immaterial myth projecting an otherworldly possibility, trans-corporeality positing inescapable interconnectedness between humans and all living and non-living matter, and everyday environmentalism broadening the definition of environment to contest nature-culture dualism. I also argue that this ecofiction’s allegorisation of Manasa Devi’s myth through the unseen boundaries that she seeks to retain problematise a simplistic understanding of borders as limiting. My paper thus analyses how this reconceptualisation through the postcolonial nonhuman blurs borders and their ordering of the world and posits, instead, a relational living that dismantles constructedness of hierarchies while paying heed to (b)orders for ecological sustainable living.
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