Mendacious Conservation and Poetic Justice In Nadine Gordiemr's The Conservationist: A Postcolonial Ecocritical Reading
Keywords:CONSERVATION, NATURE, POLITICAL ECOLOGY, EXPLOITATION
Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist (1974) engages with the conservation of nature under apartheid South Africa. The novel’s portrayal of the policy of land ownership and use under this period signifies the deep issues of racism which many critics have exposed in relation to Gordimer’s writings. In this article, I shift focus to the novel’s engagement with conservation in a theoretical context drawn from insights in postcolonial ecocriticism, and political ecology. These highlight the joint exploitation of nature and the victimisation of people who lack access to political and economic power. While my analysis concentrates on the ecopolitical force of the narrative, I also examine the novel’s deployment of irony as a key device that exposes the racist/classist underpinnings of the politics of conservation, as well as invests agency, and power to the exploited parties. I conclude by pointing out that Gordimer’s engagement with conservation, in The Conservationist, is in tune with the precept of postcolonial ecocriticism, which postulates that the literature of a postcolonial society should not only portray the exploitation of nature, and the poor, but also advocate for justice. In The Conservationist, Gordimer demonstrates the power of imaginative writing to advocate for nature, the poor, and the oppressed.