Returning to Nature as Habitat? The Ecocritical, Non-Canonical Voice of the Environmentally Dispossessed in Waslala: Memorial del Futuro

Claudia Monica Isabel Hachenberger


Neoliberal capitalist growth and ecological exploitation have been raising formerly unknown problems and pose significant difficulties for the environmentally dispossessed, for instance in terms of meeting an ever-increasing consumer demand concerning natural resources and simultaneously coping with a massive and indisputable waste problem. The virulent topic of inconsiderate environmental destruction and improper waste disposal is addressed by Gioconda Belli’s 1996 utopian novel Waslala: Memorial del Futuro in different ways. With its postcolonial-ecocritical agenda, the novel detaches itself from narrow dichotomous and stereotypical conceptions and aims to draw the readers’ attention to the negative and fatalistic impact that neoliberal capitalist consumerism has on the environments of the poor. The Nicaraguan novel furthermore highlights the underrepresented, non-canonical voices of the environmentally dispossessed and depicts environmental exploitation and ecological damage through their perspectives. This article demonstrates how Waslala articulates a powerful anti-capitalist, ecological, and postcolonial critical perspective and helps imagine alternative convivialist scenarios of returning to nature as habitat in ethically and ecologically more inclusive terms. My close reading focuses on the novel’s critique of the waste policies of capitalist and industrialized nations and the challenges resulting from what Rob Nixon has termed “slow violence.” Hereby, the article illuminates the ways readers are addressed by the drastic depiction of tragic historical events. In its critical examination of stereotypical dualistic thinking, Waslala concretely proposes the bioregion of the river as a promising and convivialist alternative space for returning to nature as habitat.


Utopia; Slow Violence; Capitalist Waste Policy; Environments of the Poor; Convivialism

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