The Water Apocalypse: Venice desert cities and utopian arcologies in Southwestern dystopian fiction
2016 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Numerous stories have, and are being written in both criticism and literature about the future of the U.S. Southwest, and pretty much always said future is considered to be closely linked to the vicissitudes of water. The Southwest could be regarded as an undisciplined environment, forcing U.S. environmentalists to get over the color green while some of the population faces a drought by painting the grass of their front yards into that same color. In a disciplinary work that combines ecocriticism, political ecology and decolonial theories this presentation analyzes the way in which different Southwestern cultural groups are interlinked with the environmental degradation of the region, mostly due to the mismanagement of water.
The struggles over water rights portrayed in the novel Alburquerque (1992), by the renown Chicano author Rudolfo Anaya, become very real when one reads the posts and news about the water-demanding Santolina sprawl development currently proposed for Albuquerque’s West side. In the same line, a lush sprawl development called “Venice” is proposed in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead (1991). On another tone, Paolo Bacigalupi’s last novel, The Water Knife (2015) presents arcologies (self-contained, self-sufficient buildings) as an option to scape what he perceives will be a hellish region when climate change worsens and water underground levels are eventually depleted. Migration, xenophobia and environmental re-adaptation become then central issues to consider. A nuanced analysis of these dystopian narratives brings into question current decision making around water management in the Southwest through the decolonial perspectives of the authors. If one argues that the environmental degradation of the arid Southwest is partly a consequence of the cultural oppression of the native local inhabitants, by imposing an inappropriate socio-environmental culture over the region, dystopian novels such as these become all the more relevant when proposing alternative futures.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-203133OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-203133DiVA: diva2:1081171
VII Biannual EASLCE conference “Wildness without Wilderness”: The Poiesis of Energy and Instability. Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, October 27-30, 2016
QC 201703132017-03-132017-03-132017-03-13Bibliographically approved