|About the Book|
Southern Africas literatures brim with references to the natural world, its landscapes and its animals. Both fictional and non-fictional works express ongoing debates, often highly politicised, concerning its various groups senses of identity andMoreSouthern Africas literatures brim with references to the natural world, its landscapes and its animals. Both fictional and non-fictional works express ongoing debates, often highly politicised, concerning its various groups senses of identity and belonging in relation to the land and its denizens. This often involves a pervasive tension between Western, settler societies conceptions of modernity and indigenous world-views, each complicating the often simplistic binarisms drawn between them. In this selection of papers from the 2006 Literature and Ecology Colloquium, held in Grahamstown, South Africa, the complexities of forging imaginative and pragmatic senses of belonging in Southern Africa are explored from a variety of disciplinary persepectives: philosophical, historical, botanical, and anthropological as well as literary. Their subject-matter ranges widely - from Bushmen testimonies to Berlin missionaries, from prehistoric cave-dwellers to Schopenhauer, from white Batswana to lion-tamers - but find themselves echoing one another in intriguing and illuminating ways. These are highly localised meditations on age-old questions: What does it mean to be human within a natural environment? Why do we appear to be so damaging to the ecology that sustains us? Is our presence inevitably toxic to our planetary fellow-travellers? How do we forge an ecologically sound sense of belonging in this post-colonial, post-apartheid, post-modern era? If this collection has a single most prominent question binding it together, it is this: What are the limits and potentialities of human compassion towards the natural world?