Volume 12, Issue 1, 2015
Allegories of Imperialism: Barbarians and World Cultures
Shiuhhuah Serena Chou
Claiming the Sacred: Indigenous Knowledge, Spiritual Ecology, and the Emergence of Eco-cosmopolitanism
This essay examines the persistent engagement with cosmopolitan inclusivity through the endorsement of indigenous sacredness in works of ethnographic
fiction. I focus on Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home, James Cameron’s Avatar, and Taiwanese writer Ming-yi Wu’s science fiction The Man with the Compound Eyes, three iconic environmental representations of indigenous knowledge. These texts illustrate how indigenous thinking has very often been transformed from place-bound, locally-embedded cultural traditions to an embodiment of Euro-American eco-spirituality that overturns both national boundaries and the humannature divide at the turn of the twenty-first century. In settler environmental narratives, the insistence on the ethnographic mode strengthens the desire for authenticity and intimacy.