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Memory of Water : Boundaries of Political Geography and World Literature

Journal article
Authors Katarina Leppänen
Published in European Review
Volume 28
Issue 3
Pages 425-434
ISSN 1062-7987
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Centre for European Research (CERGU)
Pages 425-434
Language en
Subject categories Specific Literatures, History of Ideas


The fact that dystopian literature has a great potential for envisioning alternative futures is elaborated in this article in relation to the Finnish/British author Emmi Itäranta’s Memory of Water (2013). Itäranta’s gloomy low-fi novel is read alongside contemporary ecocritical theory with a focus on issues of vernacular cultures and knowledges versus ideas of cosmopolitan planetary citizenship. Reflections are made about the profound nature of the concept of borders: cultural, temporal, informational, geographical, political, in the event of massive catastrophes. The article investigates how Rob Nixon’s concept of ‘slow violence’ and Ursula Heise’s ‘eco-cosmopolitanism’ are played out in a novel, and how the novel in turn poses important questions for ecocritical theory. Thus, the interplay between ecocritical literary theory, on the one hand, and literature, on the other, is highlighted. What can dystopia make visible in contemporary theory?

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