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AnimalitiesLiterary and Cultural Studies Beyond the Human$
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Michael Lundblad

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474400022

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474400022.001.0001

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Animality, Biopolitics, and Umwelt in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide

Animality, Biopolitics, and Umwelt in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide

(p.148) Chapter 7 Animality, Biopolitics, and Umwelt in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide

Robin Chen-Hsing Tsai

Edinburgh University Press

Tsai explores Ghosh’s novel in relation to intersecting histories of both human and nonhuman violence. Set in the tide country of the Sundarbans in Bangladesh and India, the novel dramatizes vulnerable forms of life, including endangered river dolphins and dispossessed people, threatened not only by storms and floods stemming from global warming but also by the neo-imperialist violence of the state. Tsai’s reading of the novel draws upon the concept of the Umwelt from Jakob von Uexküll, as well as the fields of animality studies, biopolitics, systems theory, and phenomenology, in order to argue for what he calls a “critical bioregionalism” in which advocacy for vulnerable places needs to be attentive to the overlapping forms and histories of violence that connect human and nonhuman inhabitants.

Keywords:   animality studies, biopolitics, Umwelt, Jakob von Uexküll, Amitav Ghosh, systems theory, phenomenology, “critical bioregionalism”, vulnerability

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