Recent articles have called for postcolonial and ecology-minded criticism to engage with each other, suggesting, too, some of the points of difficulty they might encounter when they do. One point of difficulty lies in how these two forms of criticism develop differing evaluations of discourse and its relation to what counts as real. This essay proposes resolving this difficulty with a materialist apprehension of discourse and suggests that a postcolonial ecocriticism enacted this way might have value generally for African studies. The essay then examines J. M. Coetzee's Life & Times of Michael K, a novel that has been explored as exemplar of postcolonial ecological thinking, and argues that while Michael K may indeed be shaped by attitudes typical of postcolonial thinking at its inception, it is not a novel with much interest in ecology. The issue for an African ecocriticism, then, is how to grasp the novel's writing of nature. I argue that its historical juncture provides an interpretive context for how the novel subordinates its writing of nature to its postcolonial suspicion of the modern nation state.


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pp. 87-121
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