Date of Award
Magic realism (Literature), Environmentalism in literature, Globalization -- Environmental aspects, Poor -- Developing countries
In this research I compare the magical realist novel Berji Kristin: Tales from the Garbage Hills by Latife Tekin with Chris Abani's GraceLand in order to combat the assertion that magical realism, because it is a non-Western mode, is intrinsically more appropriate for representations of extreme poverty in the third world than realism. To ground the aesthetic discussion to issues facing slum communities like those central in GraceLand and Berji Kristin, I use Rob Nixon's book Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor in which he posits that ecological degradation of the poor's living spaces through oil spills, toxic waste disposal, extreme deforestation, etcetera, constitutes a kind of "slow" violence unique in its ability to maintain a low profile while causing death and disease on extreme spacial and temporal orders. I also use Mike Davis's Planet of Slums, to illuminate the occluded network of relationships between international machinations and local indigence as another means of understanding the oppression at work in these slums. Davis and Nixon provide the critical lens with which I analyze Berji Kristin and GraceLand's handling of the slum communities they represent. I have found that neither realism nor magical realism are implicitly better at representing the survival challenges facing marginalized communities, rather, that they each have unique abilities which work in different ways to dramatize the lives of the world's very poor. Communities of the global South need the resources of both modes to dramatize their experiences.
Hawkins, Benjamin, "Exploring Realism and Magical Realism in Slum Novels of the Global South" (2013). University Honors Theses. Paper 6.