Angry Planet

Decolonial Fiction and the American Third World

2022
Author:

Anne Stewart

Before the idea of the Anthropocene, there was the angry planet

Many novels from the end of the millennium center around an Earth that acts, moves, shapes human affairs, and creates dramatic, nonanthropogenic change. Anne Stewart shows how this fiction brought Black and Indigenous thought into conversation, offering a fresh account of globalization in the 1990s—the era that first made connections among environmental crises and antiracist and decolonial struggles.

Drawing together timely conversations in new materialism, decolonial theory, and ethnic studies, Angry Planet offers a striking new reading of diverse, defiant novels from the 1990s. In Anne Stewart’s readings of these angry planet fictions, the planet itself rises up alongside antiracist and anticolonial movements against colonial-capitalist terraforming.

Hsuan L. Hsu, author of The Smell of Risk: Environmental Disparities and Olfactory Aesthetics

How might we understand an earthquake as a complaint, or erosion as a form of protest—in short, the Earth as an angry planet? Many novels from the end of the millennium did just that, centering around an Earth that acts, moves, shapes human affairs, and creates dramatic, nonanthropogenic change.

In Angry Planet, Anne Stewart uses this literature to develop a theoretical framework for reading with and through planetary motion. Typified by authors like Colson Whitehead, Octavia Butler, and Leslie Marmon Silko, whose work anticipates contemporary critical concepts of entanglement, withdrawal, delinking, and resurgence, angry planet fiction coalesced in the 1990s and delineated the contours of a decolonial ontology. Stewart shows how this fiction brought Black and Indigenous thought into conversation, offering a fresh account of globalization in the 1990s from the perspective of the American Third World, construing it as the era that first made connections among environmental crises and antiracist and decolonial struggles.

By synthesizing these major intersections of thought production in the final decades of the twentieth century, Stewart offers a recent history of dissent to the young movements of the twenty-first century. As she reveals, this knowledge is crucial to incipient struggles of our contemporary era, as our political imaginaries grapple with the major challenges of white nationalism and climate change denial.

Cover alt text: Title in overcast sky, subtitle and author name over hazy image of submerged bridge and stop sign with gloomy forest in distance.

Anne Stewart is a settler scholar from Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Treaty 1 territory. She works as a lecturer in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of British Columbia. Her writing has been published in MELUS, Studies in American Indian Literatures, Sprout: An Eco-Urban Poetry Journal, Contemporary Women’s Writing, and The E3W Review of Books.

Drawing together timely conversations in new materialism, decolonial theory, and ethnic studies, Angry Planet offers a striking new reading of diverse, defiant novels from the 1990s. In Anne Stewart’s readings of these angry planet fictions, the planet itself rises up alongside antiracist and anticolonial movements against colonial-capitalist terraforming.

Hsuan L. Hsu, author of The Smell of Risk: Environmental Disparities and Olfactory Aesthetics

Brilliantly revealing how planetary rebelliousness surges through the cultural imagination, this study—drawing on Indigenous land-based intelligence and confronting colonialist, capitalist, and racist domination—resounds with the shout of an angry planet to TEAR IT TO THE GROUND! Essential reading for infrastructure studies, ecomaterialism, decolonial environmentalisms, and for anyone called to envision new modes of being human.

Stacy Alaimo, author of Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times

Contents

Introduction: Messages from the Angry Planet

1. Terraforming the New World: Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon and Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist

2. First World Problems: John Edgar Wideman’s Philadelphia Fire and Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange

3. Third World Liberation: Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead and Héctor Tobar’s The Tattooed Soldier

4. The Fourth World Resurgent: Gerald Vizenor’s Bearheart and Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower

Conclusion: The Angry Planet in the Anthropocene

Acknowledgments

Notes

Bibliography

Index