Chronicling the Capitalocene — History, Colonialism, and Capital in Annie Proulx’s Barkskins
Keywords:Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Deforestation, History, Narrative, Time, Logic of Elimination, Logic of Infinity, Settler-Colonialism
After first situating Annie Proulx’s Barkskins (2016) within the context of the Capitalocene, this essay turns to the novel’s historical narrative as decentering the individual human in a broadening account of history on the one hand, while on the other hand putting a renewed focus on the human through the central role of inequality and exploitation within the context of environmental destruction. In a second step, the essay turns to the novel’s representation of capitalism–colonialism as a destructive cycle founded upon the twin logics of elimination and (false) infinity. Barkskins, I make the case, enacts a critique of the underlying principles of the Capitalocene while remaining dedicated to the past—no particular vision of the future is offered up, even as history broadens in scope.
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