American Studies, Ecocriticism, and Citizenship

Thinking and Acting in the Local and Global Commons

Edited by Joni Adamson, Kimberly N. Ruffin

© 2013 – Routledge

270 pages

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415628235
pub: 2012-12-18
US Dollars$145.00

About the Book

This collection reclaims public intellectuals and scholars important to the foundational work in American Studies that contributed to emerging conceptions of an "ecological citizenship" advocating something other than nationalism or an "exclusionary ethics of place." Co-editors Adamson and Ruffin recover underrecognized field genealogies in American Studies (i.e. the work of early scholars whose scope was transnational and whose activism focused on race, class and gender) and ecocriticism (i.e. the work of movement leaders, activists and scholars concerned with environmental justice whose work predates the 1990s advent of the field). They stress the necessity of a confluence of intellectual traditions, or "interdisciplinarities," in meeting the challenges presented by the "anthropocene," a new era in which human beings have the power to radically endanger the planet or support new approaches to transnational, national and ecological citizenship. Contributors to the collection examine literary, historical, and cultural examples from the 19th century to the 21st. They explore notions of the common—namely, common humanity, common wealth, and common ground—and the relation of these notions to often conflicting definitions of who (or what) can have access to "citizenship" and "rights." The book engages in scholarly ecological analysis via the lens of various human groups—ethnic, racial, gendered, coalitional—that are shaping twenty-first century environmental experience and vision. Read together, the essays included in American Studies, Ecocriticism, and Citizenship create a "methodological commons" where environmental justice case studies and interviews with activists and artists living in places as diverse as the U.S., Canada, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Taiwan and the Navajo Nation, can be considered alongside literary and social science analysis that contributes significantly to current debates catalyzed by nuclear meltdowns, oil spills, hurricanes, and climate change, but also by hopes for a common future that will ensure the rights of all beings--human and nonhuman-- to exist, maintain, and regenerate life cycles and evolutionary processes


"It is fair to characterize the collection American Studies, Ecocriticism, and Citizenship as an attempt to theorize and reinvigorate how American studies scholars can reengage with the environmental crisis… this dynamic volume…extends beyond critical environmental justice studies to overtly engage activist work, acknowledging that ‘theory can be produced outside the academy in communities and activist contexts,’ which in turn has made environmental justice activism ‘a cultural movement interested in issues of ideology and representation.’" --Kevin C. Armitage, American Quarterly

"The individual cultural and comparative cultural work represented in American Studies, Ecocriticism, and Citizenship is especially key given the results of the recent Green 2.0 report released in July 2014…[It]aims to ensure that diverse voices are highlighted for the central roles all are playing as citizens of the anthropocene…Its mix of approaches and subjects fertilizes important questions and connections for ecocriticism’s continued development as a field…The collection’s range assures that scholars within the humanities and social sciences—especially in gender studies, critical race and ethnic studies, and sustainability studies—will find multiple points of connection." --Kristin J. Jacobson, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, American Literary History

"This book offers a fertile intersection between areas of study frequently kept separate: American Studies and ecocriticism…The chapters in this book present clear examples of interdisciplinary analysis, often reaching surprising conclusions from the juxtaposition of apparently unrelated issues that merge together…One of the major strengths of the volume is the emphasis on environmental justice and activism…All in all, Joni Adamson and Kimberly Ruffin have presented an extremely varied collection of essays which echo each other on their interpretations of what an ecological planetary citizenship might imply…The very basis of life, our environment, cuts across all borders and studies such as this can increase awareness and show the need for the consideration of a more global and ethical planetary ecological citizenship." –Carmen Flys-Junquera, University of Alcalá/Franklin Institute, Green Letters

"In this landmark volume, Adamson and Ruffin bring together sociologists and humanists, historians and ecocritics, ethnic studies and environmental studies, to explore a wide range of American texts and topics, times and places, human groups and socio-ecological concerns, disclosing a diversity of local interconnections between social justice and sustainability in globalizing world. In its multidisciplinary reach, historical depth and intellectual rigor, this outstanding collection sets a new agenda for transnational environmental American Studies."--Catherine Rigby, School of English Communications and Performance Studies, Monash University

"American Studies, Ecocriticism, and Citizenship is a long overdue intervention into American Studies, and a signal contribution to reorienting literary/cultural environmental studies. It offers a rich argument for the connection between the human and social sciences, and social and environmental justice on a global, transnational scale. Highly innovative, the contributions from both well-established and emerging scholars, balance well between larger conceptual issues and key case studies from around the globe."--T.V Reed, Lewis E. and Stella G. Buchanan Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies, Washington State University

"The collection is a successful interdisciplinary project that signals from the outset its intention to take seriously the implications of ecological thought. The result is a significant development of the concept of ecological citizenship which relies on a dynamic between global and bioregional perspectives, and acknowledges the fundamental connection between community and place that was often neglected when borders were drawn." --Ryan Palmer, Uppsala University, Sweden, Ecozon

"This collection makes the concept of ‘ecological citizenship’ both accessible and urgent, and as a whole, these essays offer a vital missing chapter in the history of American Studies' engagement with environmental activism and scholarship." --Annette Kolodny, Professor Emerita of American Literature and Culture, the University of Arizona, author of The Lay of the Land, The Land Before Her, and In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery

Table of Contents

Foreword, Philip J. Deloria Introduction, Joni Adamson and Kimberly N. Ruffin Section 1. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Citizenship and Belonging 1. Zora Neale Hurston and the Environmental Ethic of Risk, Susan Scott Parrish 2. Haitian Soil for the Citizen's Soul, Karen Salt 3. Intimate Cartographies: Defining Navajo Ecological Citizenship through U.S. Mapping, Soil Conservation and Livestock Reduction Programs, Traci Bynne Voyles 4. Getting Back to an Imagined Nature: The Mannahatta Project and Environmental Justice, Jeffrey Myers 5. The Oil Desert, Michael Ziser 6. Japanese Roots in American Soil: National Belonging in David Mas Masumoto’s Harvest Son and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s The Legend of Fire Horse Woman, Sarah D. Wald Section II. Border Ecologies 7. Our Nations and All Our Relations: Environmental Ethics in William S. Yellow Robe Jr.’s The Council, John Gamber 8. Preserving the Great White North: Migratory Birds, Italian Immigrants, and the Making of Ecological Citizenship Across the U.S.-Canada Border, 1900-1924, Ivan Grabovac 9. Boundaries of Violence: Water, Gender and Development in Context, Julie Sze 10. U.S. Border Ecologies, Environmental Criticism, and Transnational American Studies, Claudia Sadowski-Smith 11. Climate Justice and Trans-Pacific Indigenous Feminisms, Hsinya Huang Section III. Ecological Citizenship in Action 12. Roots of Nativist Environmentalism in America’s Eden, Lisa Sun-Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow 13. Wielding Common Wealth in Washington, D.C. and Eastern Kentucky: Creative Social Practice in Two Marginalized Communities, Kirsten Crase 14. "Climate Justice Now! Imagining Grassroots Eco-Cosmopolitanism, Giovanna Di Chiro 15. The Los Angeles Urban Rangers, Trailblazing the Commons, Stephanie LeMenager

About the Editors

Joni Adamson is Professor of Environmental Humanities and Senior Sustainability Scholar, Arizona State University, US.

Kimberly N. Ruffin is Associate Professor in the Department of Literature and Languages at Roosevelt University, US.

About the Series

Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature

This series is our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to literary studies, it engages with topics such as philosophy, science, race, gender, film, music, and ecology. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Ecology