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Anglophone Cameroon Poetry in the Environmental Matrix

Eunice Ngongkum

This book explores contemporary Anglophone Cameroon poetry’s engagement with the environment through an eco-textual analysis of a cross section of poems from different poets. In this regard, the work broadens the field of ecocriticism beyond the original Anglo-American axis by developing a more locally-rooted in ecocriticism while making a valuable addition to the growing field of African ecocriticism.

It spotlights environmental degradation, the inextricable relationship between nature and culture as well as the intersection between history, politics, ethics and the environment in the Anglophone Cameroon cultural imaginary.

Focusing on the current need for the humanities to effectively respond to environmental challenges, the book foregrounds an environmental poetic vision that can be an ideal starting point for influencing and changing thought and behavioural patterns globally.

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Chapter 6. Nature and the Politics of Consciousness Raising


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Chapter 6 Nature and the Politics of Consciousness Raising

Ever since the emergence of ecocriticism as a distinct field of critical inquiry, consciousness raising, also known as the transformation of the subject, has been considered its “most important task” (Glotfelty 1996:xxiv). The magnitude of the environmental crisis clearly poses profound cultural questions that demand an urgent response; a response rooted in raising awareness about nature’s corporeality and how people imagine and relate to it. Literature, relevant to ecocriticism, plays an important part in this regard given that it intersects text and context. Art, it is true, cannot stop pollution, global warming or deforestation, but it can nevertheless record these issues in ways that can convince people to take positive action. Scott Slovic, in Going Away to Think: Engagement, Retreat, and Ecocritical Responsibility, says, to this effect, that “we must not reduce our scholarship to an arid, hyper intellectual game, devoid of smells and tastes, devoid of actual experience […]. Literary scholarship and literature itself, are on the most fundamental level, associated with human values and attitudes” (2008:28). Slovic is here responding to a tendency in western critical scholarship to divorce literature from its social environment while advocating the ‘purity’ of art. Such criticism challenges ecocriticism’s social ethos and its promotion of what Serpil Oppermann terms the “politization of literature” (1999:31). While western scholars can afford to debate the role that literature can and should play with regard to the moral and aesthetic challenges...

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