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




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


“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.

Author Biography

Claudia Monica Isabel Hachenberger, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

Claudia Hachenberger is a PhD candidate at the Chair of North Literary American Studies at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg. She holds a doctoral fellowship by the Villigst Protestant Academic Foundation (ESW) and is currently working on her dissertation project on sustainable alternative societies in fiction from the Americas. Her research is situated in the fields of Hemispheric American Studies, Ecocritical Studies, Postcolonial Studies, and Feminist Studies. In June 2019, she published an article entitled “Narcos “and the Promotion of an U.S. (Informal) Cultural Empire Based on Processes of Stereotyping and Comparison” in fiar“ (forum for inter-american research“) and has given talks on various occasions, for instance at the international workshop “Ecocritical Life Writing in the Dystopic Present” in Augsburg in December 2019 or at the 2021 EAAS Conference held online. Furthermore, she is the elected representative of young academics in the field of Latin American Studies at ADLAF.




How to Cite

Hachenberger, Claudia Monica Isabel. “Returning to Nature As Habitat? The Ecocritical, Non-Canonical Voice of the Environmentally Dispossessed in Waslala: Memorial Del Futuro”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 22, no. 1, June 2021, pp. 83-101, doi:10.5283/copas.342.