Allegories of the Anthropocene

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 14 illustrations Published: June 2019

Cultural Studies > Ocean Studies, Environmental Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

In Allegories of the Anthropocene Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey traces how indigenous and postcolonial peoples in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands grapple with the enormity of colonialism and anthropogenic climate change through art, poetry, and literature. In these works, authors and artists use allegory as a means to understand the multiscalar complexities of the Anthropocene and to critique the violence of capitalism, militarism, and the postcolonial state. DeLoughrey examines the work of a wide range of artists and writers—including poets Kamau Brathwaite and Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, Dominican installation artist Tony Capellán, and authors Keri Hulme and Erna Brodber—whose work addresses Caribbean plantations, irradiated Pacific atolls, global flows of waste, and allegorical representations of the ocean and the island. In examining how island writers and artists address the experience of finding themselves at the forefront of the existential threat posed by climate change, DeLoughrey demonstrates how the Anthropocene and empire are mutually constitutive and establishes the vital importance of  allegorical art and literature in understanding our global environmental crisis.


"DeLoughrey brings her considerable background in environmental humanities and postcolonial literature studies to bear in this volume. . . . This book is not to be missed by those interested in keeping up with recent conversations, across the environmental humanities, around issues of the Anthropocene." — L. C. Bayne, Choice

Allegoriesof the Anthropocene brings human histories of dispossession, toxicity, and creative survival to the fore where they might get lost in the geologic fixation on sediment. . . .  It is powerful that this rich and careful book should end with a turn to the reader, showing how allegory at its most potent is about the entanglement, not leap, between part/whole or island/planet.” — Isabel Lockhart, Journal of British Studies

"By decolonising geological discourse, as well as scholarship about climate change more broadly, Allegories of the Anthropocene challenges climate change epistemologies and realities to illuminate the continued, violent atmospheric changes confronting spaces formerly colonised as the consequence of their imperial and military repression and exploitation." — Giulia Champion, Ecozon@

“DeLoughrey’s new book is to be strongly recommended for its highly original tack: focusing upon the rising importance of allegory as a way of making sense of times of rupture and catastrophic environmental change.” — Jonathan Pugh, Island Studies Journal

“Whenever Elizabeth DeLoughrey makes a critical intervention within a specific theoretical or literary field, established certainties, or matters of general consensus, seem suddenly in need of recalibration…. Allegories of the Anthropocene does something similar to the overburdened discourse surrounding the proposed geological epoch…. Like an exciting crossword puzzle, the book is delightfully difficult as it deconstructs the complexities and inconsistencies of the Anthropocene discourse.” — Malcolm Sen, New West Indian Guide

“This is a meticulously researched, compellingly argued and richly suggestive book that builds on various strands in DeLoughrey’s previous research to produce an important and timely intervention into ecocritical, indigenous and literary / visual studies. DeLoughrey has an enviable ability to summarize and synthesize enormous bodies of scholarship across multiple disciplines, and to bring them into productive relation, also deploying highly nuanced close reading skills in relating (social) scientific discourses to specific literary, artistic and filmic ‘texts.’” — Michelle Keown, Literary Research

Allegories of the Anthropocene is a book of oceanic reach, in every sense. Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey's transformative thinking will reverberate across the environmental humanities, postcolonial studies, and the Anthropocene debates for many years to come.” — Rob Nixon, author of Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor

“Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey is one on the world’s leading authorities of island cultures and imaginaries in the context of modern imperial history and of economic and environmental globalization more generally. Her innovative, indispensable, and inventive book, Allegories of the Anthropocene, will immediately become a must-read in the environmental humanities, taking its place as an instant classic.” — Joni Adamson, Professor and Director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative, Arizona State University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey is a Professor with appointments in the English Department and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of numerous books, including Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Island Literatures. The author's proceeds from the sale of this book go to The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction: Allegories of the Anthropocene  1
1. Gendering Earth: Excavating Plantation Soil  33
2. Planetarity: Militarized Radiations  63
3. Accelerations: Globalization and States of Waste  98
4. Oceanic Futures: Interspecies Worldings  133
5. An Island Is a World  165
Notes  197
Index   257
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0471-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0410-3
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Funding Information

This title is freely available in an open access edition thanks to the TOME initiative and teh generous support of Arcadia, a charitable fund of the Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, and the the UCLA Library.