Since the late 1990s, theories and practices of ecocriticism have tended to be more politically engaged than in its earliest phase, considering that “environmental problems cannot be solved without addressing issues of wealth and poverty, overconsumption, underdevelopment, and the notion of resource scarcity” (Heise 251-2). This paper engages with the political orientation in ecocriticism by examining presentations of humans and nature in three Vietnamese short stories – “Kiến và người” (The Ants and the Man, 1990), “Mối và người” (The Termite and the Man, 1992), and “Nhện và người” (The Spider and the Man, 2012) by Trần Duy Phiên (born 1942). These presentations center around conflicts between human characters and insect characters, in which the former attempt to dominate and exploit the latter and the latter resist and take revenge on the former. This paper delves into the political context of these presentations which is the Vietnamese government's projects of modernizing the nation since the time it came into power in 1945 and particularly since the time of Reform in 1986. These projects include the making of modern citizens, civilizing the highland, and modernizing the national economy, all have aimed at clearing colonial legacies in material and mental aspects of postcolonial Vietnam. The paper argues that national allegory is a characteristic of Vietnamese ecofiction, which forms Vietnamese intellectuals’ engagement with the postcolonial condition of Vietnam. This argument in its turn affirms political engagements in ecocriticism as a historical situation, particularly in former colonial countries.
Pham, Chi P
"Political Orientation in Ecocriticism: National Allegory in Vietnamese Ecofiction by Trần Duy Phiên."
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