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Different Shades of Green

African Literature, Environmental Justice, and Political Ecology

Byron Caminero-Santangelo

Publication Year: 2014

Engaging important discussions about social conflict, environmental change, and imperialism in Africa, Different Shades of Green points to legacies of African environmental writing, often neglected as a result of critical perspectives shaped by dominant Western conceptions of nature and environmentalism. Drawing on an interdisciplinary framework employing postcolonial studies, political ecology, environmental history, and writing by African environmental activists, Byron Caminero-Santangelo emphasizes connections within African environmental literature, highlighting how African writers have challenged unjust, ecologically destructive forms of imperial development and resource extraction.

Different Shades of Green also brings into dialogue a wide range of African creative writing—including works by Chinua Achebe, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Bessie Head, Nadine Gordimer, Zakes Mda, Nuruddin Farah, Wangari Maathai, and Ken Saro-Wiwa—in order to explore vexing questions for those involved in the struggle for environmental justice, in the study of political ecology, and in the environmental humanities, urging continued imaginative thinking in effecting a more equitable, sustain¬able future in Africa.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

Over the years, the University of Kansas gave me the time and financial support needed to write this book. During my tenure as a Resident Fellow at the Hall Center for the Humanities in fall 2009 I developed early sections of chapters 1 and 2. I am also grateful to...

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pp. 1-6

In 1991, Larry Summers produced a now infamous memo urging the World Bank to encourage “more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs” (less-developed countries). Part of his “economic logic” included an assertion that “countries in Africa are...

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1. The Nature of Africa

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pp. 7-35

African environmental writing tends to prioritize social justice; lived environments; livelihoods; and/or the relationships among environmental practice, representations of nature, power, and privilege. As a result, it would perhaps be considered inadequately...

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2. The Nature of African Environmentalism

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pp. 36-74

In her memoir Unbowed, Wangari Maathai draws on what Lawrence Buell refers to as an “indigene pastoral” in order to give narrative shape to her vision for social and environmental regeneration in Kenya. She begins her story with a childhood memory...

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3. The Nature of Justice

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pp. 75-132

As a result of environmentalism’s association under apartheid with the priorities of a relatively affluent white minority and with racial oppression, black South Africans were often “hostile to what was perceived as an elitist concern peripheral to their struggle...

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4. The Nature of Violence

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pp. 133-182

Ken Saro-Wiwa famously characterized gas flaring and oil spills in the Niger Delta as a form of genocidal violence. His manifesto Genocide in Nigeria (1992) claimed that the Ogoni people were left “half-deaf and prone to respiratory diseases” and that their...

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pp. 183-190

The question of how to conceive place in relation to the politics of scale represents a conceptual challenge for environmental justice narratives. Such narratives often encourage skepticism regarding “transcendent and universal politics,” which potentially marginalize...


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pp. 191-196

Works Cited

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pp. 197-208


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pp. 209-214

E-ISBN-13: 9780813936079
E-ISBN-10: 0813936071
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813936055
Print-ISBN-10: 0813936055

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: none
Publication Year: 2014