restricted access The Textual Politics of the Land in the Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa


Taking its prompt from recent studies of Ken Saro-Wiwa's work that can be grouped under the broad heading of "postcolonial ecocriticism," this article addresses the status of the "land" in an expanded archive of the author's works. Reading samples of Saro-Wiwa's lyric poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction, I argue that his writings demonstrate a constant preoccupation with the land as a political, material, and philosophical problem—one in which traditional animist conceptions of the land play a key role. This preoccupation results in works that articulate a range of attitudes to the land through an innovative manipulation of the properties of their respective forms and genres and that, for all their radicalism, can, at times, be problematically conservative. I suggest that the most productive legacy that Saro-Wiwa offers might be located in the tension raised by his rejection of a positivist determination of the land and in the opportunities that this creates for critical engagements with the problematics of writing the land.

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