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  1. "I Am a Hottentot" : africanist mimicry and green xenophilia in Hans Paasche and Karen Blixen
    Erschienen: 12.06.2017

    Claims that industrialized western countries must reform their environmental practices have often been made with reference to less-developed non-western societies living in greater "harmony" or "balance" with the natural world. Examples of what I... mehr

     

    Claims that industrialized western countries must reform their environmental practices have often been made with reference to less-developed non-western societies living in greater "harmony" or "balance" with the natural world. Examples of what I call green xenophilia (from the Greek "xenos", meaning strange, unknown or foreign, and "philia", meaning love or attraction), are myriad, wide-ranging and culturally dispersed. They range from the appearance of the iconic "crying Indian" in anti-pollution TV and newspaper spots in the months leading up to the first Earth Day on April 22 1970 to numerous environmentalist individuals' and groups' use of the fabricated "Chief Seattle's Speech" as an authoritative touchstone of ecological consciousness, and from the British Schumacher College's endorsement of India as a source of simplicity, holism, humility, vegetarianism etc. to leading deep ecologists' advocacy of East Asian religions (especially Buddhism, Jainism and Taoism) as "biocentric" alternatives to "anthropocentric" Christianity (Rolston 1987; Dunaway 2008; Krupat 2011; Corrywright 2010). Invocations of non-western cultures, identities and worldviews have proved potent heuristic devices, enabling greens both to critique the status quo and to gesture (however schematically) towards the possibility of alternatives. Pervasive media-borne ideas and images like "the Green Tibet" (Huber 1997) and "the ecological Indian" (Krech 1999) have given environmentalist ideas about the good life physical incarnation, making them seem less remote and abstract. Yet the prevalence of xenophile dis course has also made environmentalism vulnerable to recurrent accusations of romantic primitivism, orientalism and exoticism, as western greens have sometimes (though not always) appeared to buttress traditional socio-cultural norms in the very act of challenging them (Guha 1989; Lohmann 1993; Bartholomeusz 1998). What is gained and what is risked when western greens speak about, with, for or as "the other"? In this essay I engage with two early-twentieth-century North European writers, the German Hans Paasche (1881-1921) and the Dane Karen Blixen (1885-1962), whose works bring this question to the forefront. Critical of European industrialization, and awkwardly positioned vis-a-vis their upper-class social milieus, Paasche and Blixen wrote as self-made "Africans", testing the limits between colonialism, anti-colonialism and emergent forms of environmentalism and green" lifestyle reform. More precisely, Paasche in "Die Forschungsreise des Afrikaners Lukanga Kukara ins Innerste Deutschland" ("The African Lukanga Mukara's Research Joumey into the Innermost of Germany" (1912-1913) and Blixen in "Out of Africa" (1937) deploy the ambiguous form of mimicry that Susan Gubar labels "racechange", impersonating or appropriating culturally other voices and perspectives on animals, food, physical embodiment and human-natural relations (Gubar 1997). Paasche and Blixen, I argue, used their considerable intercultural insight to construct images of Africa that they hoped would stand in redemptive contrast to the humanly and environmentally ruinous beliefs and practices of European modernity. I am interested in the acts of ethnic and textual self-alienation that these writers perform because they highlight the discursive, ethical and political ambiguities of green xenophilia - ambiguities that can be explored from different positions within the developing field of ecocritical studies.

     

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    Quelle: CompaRe
    Sprache: Englisch
    Medientyp: Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
    Format: Online
    DDC Klassifikation: Literatur und Rhetorik (800); Geschichte Afrikas (960)
    Sammlung: Synchron. Wissenschaftsverlag der Autoren
    Lizenz: Veröffentlichungsvertrag für Publikationen