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Chapter 7 - Narrative and Environmental Innovation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 August 2021

Jeffrey Cohen
Affiliation:
Arizona State University
Stephanie Foote
Affiliation:
West Virginia University
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Summary

Chapter 7 directs critical attention to contemporary narratives that are coalescing in popular technology discourses that imagine climate crisis as an occasion to expand on structures of capitalism. This narrative template – whose leitmotif is making rather than saving nature – turns away from what Ramachandra Guha termed “varieties of environmentalism” in celebrating technological acts of inventing, designing, and rebuilding biophysical worlds. It begins by addressing the parallel emergence of a high-tech planet and a planet in peril as divergent stories of global capitalism. It then examines two visions of remaking the planet: geoengineering and terraforming. These overlapping engineering arenas draw an expressly environmental portrait of innovation that imbues the tech industry with quasi-magical capacities that can be leveraged either to improve on or to transcend the Anthropocene. Offering a counterpoint to this techno-utopia, the chapter concludes with an analysis of Karen Tei Yamashita’s novel Through the Arc of the Rainforest (1990), which satirizes the colonial logic of world-building fantasies while making the planet a charismatic character with a story of its own.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

Further Reading

Callison, Candis. How Climate Change Comes to Matter: The Communal Life of Facts. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ghosh, Amitav. The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017.Google Scholar
Hulme, Mike. Weathered: Cultures of Climate. London: Sage Publications, 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
James, Erin and Morel, Eric (eds.), Environment and Narrative: New Directions in Eco-Narratology. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
LeMenager, Stephanie. “The Humanities After the Anthropocene,” in Heise, Ursula K., Christensen, John, and Neimann, Michelle (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities. London: Routledge, 2016, pp. 457–65.Google Scholar
Nye, David E. American Technological Sublime. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996.Google Scholar
Whyte, Kyle Powys. “Indigenous Science (Fiction) for the Anthropocene: Ancestral Dystopias and Fantasies of Climate Change Crises.” Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 1 no. 1–2 (2018): 224–42.Google Scholar
Whyte, Kyle Powys. “Indigeneity in Geoengineering Discourses. Some Considerations.” Ethics, Policy, and Environment 21 no. 3 (2019), 289307CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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