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Rethinking Ecological Subalterns in Tanure Ojaide’s The Activist

Innocent Chimezie Chukwulobe, Zainor Izat Zainal, Hardev Kaur Jujar Singh and Mohammad Ewan Awang

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 29, Issue 4, December 2021

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47836/pjssh.29.4.38

Keywords: Environment, environmental subaltern, Niger Delta, postcolonial ecocriticism, subaltern

Published on: 13 December 2021

This study explores the concept of subaltern and how its meaning has evolved over the years within the broader scope of postcolonial theory. The study shall trace the concept of subaltern from its anthropocentric meaning in Antonio Gramsci’s writings to Ranajit Guha and Gayatri Spivak’s ideological perspectives. We shall also trace its inroad into the ecocritical study in the works of Michael Egan and Sergio Ruiz Cayuela while maintaining its anthropocentric leaning. The study shall further attempt a redefinition of the subaltern concept to accommodate non-humans in the class of the subordinated social group. Bearing in mind the anthropocentric leaning of the concept of the subaltern, which excludes non-human members of the ecology, we shall redefine the term from its previous usage in environmental literary studies and expand it to include non-humans as a subordinated group. The study shall analyse the relationship between humans and non-humans to determine if non-humans are treated as subordinates or worse than subordinated humans. The study shall draw instances from Tanure Ojaide’s The Activist (2006) to justify the classification of non-humans as the ultimate ecological subalterns of the Niger Delta Environment. We shall consider human relationships with non-humans (land, air, water, animals, vegetation, sea lives) to determine their status as subalterns. The crux of the study is basically to expand the scope of the subaltern theory by analysing the environmental despoliation prevalent in the oil-rich Niger Delta environments of Nigeria.

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ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

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