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Ecological Imaginations in Latin American Fiction

Laura Barbas-Rhoden

Publication Year: 2011

From the rainforests of Costa Rica and the Amazon to the windswept lands of Tierra del Fuego, Laura Barbas-Rhoden discusses the natural settings within contemporary Latin American novels as they depict key moments of environmental change or crisis in the region from the nineteenth-century imperialism to the present.

By integrating the use of futuristic novels, Barbas-Rhoden pushes the ecocriticism discussion beyond the realm of "nature writing." She avoids the clichés of literary nature and reminds readers that today’s urban centers are also part of Latin America and its environmental crisis.

One of the first writers to apply ecocriticism to Latin American fiction, Barbas-Rhoden argues that literature can offer readers a deeper understanding of the natural world and humanity’s place in it. She demonstrates that ecocritical readings of Latin American topics must take into account social, racial, and gender injustices. She also addresses postapocalyptic science fiction that speaks to a fear of environmental collapse and reminds North American readers that the environments of Latin America are rich and diverse, encompassing both rural and urban extremes.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page

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pp. ix-x

This book has its academic origins in the Central American literary and cultural studies I have pursued as a professional. Truth be told, though, it had its real start much earlier. As a child, I divided my time between two passions: stories and the forests, fields, and swamps of the southeastern United States. The stories I heard at home from an...

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pp. 1-17

The Mexican poet speaks these words in the 2007 documentary The 11th Hour, and he names three creatures he would send into the future: the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), gray whale (Eschrictus robustus), and sea turtle (several species from two families, Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae). All are migratory animals that spend part...

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1. Alterity, Empire, and Nation in Tierra del Fuego

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pp. 18-59

Fabled for its breathtaking landscapes and windswept seas, Tierra del Fuego lies far from the metropolitan centers of the world. Despite its physical distance from London and even Buenos Aires, Tierra del Fuego became intertwined in the complex, global economic system that has taken shape over the last two centuries. The history of these...

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2. Contests for the Amazon

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pp. 60-98

Perhaps more than any other region of the world, the Amazon basin is synonymous with ecological wonder and environmental crisis. Representations of the Amazon abound in scientific studies, popular media, literature, film, travel writing, and oral histories. These depictions come from all corners of the globe and from people with diverse...

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3. Paradise for Sale, or Fictions of Costa Rica

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pp. 99-138

The tropical isthmus of Central America is a region notorious for dictatorship, civil war, and endemic poverty during the twentieth century. Surrounded by more politically troubled neighbors, Costa Rica is a country often presented as the exceptional case in Central America, a land of democratic traditons and breathtaking natural wonder. Indeed...

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4. Futuristic Narratives and the Crisis of Place

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pp. 139-165

Crisis of place is the last chapter in the story of modernity, according to the futuristic narratives included in this chapter. The Costa Rican authors of Chapter 3 portrayed neoliberal economic models as advancing menaces to society, but the authors of futuristic tales peer into the future and predict a society these same models will have...

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pp. 167-168

New novels of ecological imagination have appeared in a moment of rapidly accelerating globalization in Latin America. During this period, legacies of neocolonialism, corruption, and authoritarianism still confronted Latin American peoples, even as they struggled to come to terms with new economic realities. Democracies took root, but at the...


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pp. 169-176

Works Cited

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pp. 177-186


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pp. 187-195

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813045481
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813035468
Print-ISBN-10: 0813035465

Page Count: 206
Publication Year: 2011