Imagined Topographies

From Colonial Resource to Postcolonial Homeland

by Jonathan Bishop Highfield (Author)
©2013 Monographs 181 Pages
Series: Postcolonial Studies, Volume 20


One important legacy of colonialism is the separation of a culture from the land upon which its people live. Populations are displaced; topographical objects are renamed, and the land becomes a resource to be exploited. Starting with three landscapes viewed as threatening by the Europeans who colonized them, Imagined Topographies examines the ways artists, writers, and musicians distill new meaning in formerly colonized spaces through the articulation of landscapes that are homelands, not commodities. In the Irish bog Seamus Heaney explores legacies of violence, John Dunne looks at rural poverty and religious faith, and Catherine Harper creates art connecting landscape and gender. Influenced by the Amazon, Wilson Harris creates dense multi-layered Guyanese epics, Karen Tei Yamashita plays with the telenovela to explore the role of multinational corporations in deforestation, and in recordings Douglas Quin combines the natural world with the technological, raising questions of connected cultural and natural loss. The two landscapes of Australia, the empty land of the colonizers and the fertile land known by the original inhabitants, are explored in the novels of David Malouf, while Peter Carey turns to the animal world to define the Australian national character, and the people of Ramingining, in films and a website created in collaboration with the filmmaker Rolf de Heer, intervene in the Australian land rights struggle. Challenging the dominant perceptions of land in these regions, artists, musicians, and writers create new visions of landscapes tied to cultures where social and ecological justice offer choices other than emigration and habitat destruction.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2013 (February)
Ecological justice Land dispossession Postcolonialism Landscape
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2012. 192 pp.

Biographical notes

Jonathan Bishop Highfield (Author)

Jonathan Bishop Highfield, Professor of English at Rhode Island School of Design, received his PhD from the University of Iowa. His work on postcolonial ecocriticism has appeared as chapters in Environment at the Margins: Literary and Environmental Studies in Africa (2011), Postcolonial Green: Environmental Politics and World Narratives (2010), Trauma, Resistance, Reconstruction in Post-1994 South African Writing (2010), and Fact and Fiction (2008). He has published essays in Antipodes, Atlantic Studies, Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, The Jonestown Report, Kunapipi, Passages, and Rupkatha. He is also the co-editor (with Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang and Dora Edu Buandoh) of The State of the Art(s): African Studies and American Studies in Comparative Perspective (2006).


Title: Imagined Topographies