The consensus in ecocriticism today is that deconstructing the human/nonhuman binary is crucial if we want humanity to care for the environment. Indeed, viewing the environment as something to which we are connected is seen as more conducive to producing an environmentalist consciousness than seeing it as something categorically other. By contrast, my ecocritical reading of Caryl Phillips' Cambridge (1991) reveals the extent to which nonhuman landscapes in Caribbean fiction are paradoxically represented as categorically other. In Phillips' novel, this reification of the binary works in tandem with other sites of difference such as race and gender to expose how the very category of "human" is constructed through this process of othering. Instead of discussing the environment as a backdrop to the human affairs and relations that it may or may not influence, in Cambridge the environment operates as a form of "nature-function" that echoes Michel Foucault's analysis of authorship. For Foucault, the author is not the originator of meaning but a function of discourse, of the set of assumptions that govern the production, circulation, classification, and consumption of texts. Similarly, the notion of "nature-function" challenges approaches that foreground the environment as a pre-existing space that evolves outside of the subject and instead sees it as function of discourse. In Phillips' text, this discursively produced environment then goes on to produce the human subject.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 187-207
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.