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Special Issue Articles

Vol. 5 No. 2 (2024): Narrative, Environment, Social Justice

The "Colonial Anthropocene" Imaginary: Re-Imagining Climate Change in Waubgeshig Rice's Moon of the Crusted Snow (2018)

October 15, 2023


Climate imaginaries – collectively held visions of future climate change – take shape in a variety of media and genres, from computer models to poetry. While some climate imaginaries have proven particularly enduring and have managed to attain a hegemonic status in climate change discourse – for example, the "techno-market" imaginary and the "climate apocalypse" imaginary – others remain marginalized. Drawing on Waubgeshig Rice's Moon of the Crusted Snow (2018), this article theorizes the "colonial Anthropocene" imaginary as an alternative imaginary and examines its co-production at the intersection of academic discourses, activism, and literature. The "colonial Anthropocene" imaginary generally and Moon of the Crusted Snow specifically negotiate ideological tensions that have emerged in the discourse on the Anthropocene and forge a connection between the seemingly exceptional event of anthropogenic climate change and a historical sequence of colonial violence and forced displacement of Indigenous peoples. As one of this imaginary's manifestations in the literary domain, Moon of the Crusted Snow (2018) embeds climate change into a longer story that begins with settler colonialism on the North American continent by drawing on an equally old genre: the Indian captivity narrative. Significantly, the "colonial Anthropocene" imaginary is a reaction to the impulse toward claims to universality resurfacing in the discourse on the Anthropocene, particularly in the notion of "the human."


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