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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities



Islands on Sale: Reimagining the Ends of the Earth

Elizabeth DeLoughrey • University of California, Los Angeles

May 2nd @ 6pm  Zoom  https://wesleyan.zoom.us/j/98168770558

This paper examines the ways in which Antarctica is imagined as a signifier of climate change and an apocalyptic space representing a geographic but also temporal “end of the Earth.” It engages the currency of “outer spaces” such as the poles and their melting ice as vital to our visual understanding of climate change and as a cautionary tale and allegory for the Earth as a whole. It traces out a long history of representing Antarctica in terms of the sublime, the uncanny, and as wilderness, particularly in the literature and arts of Aotearoa New Zealand. It places these narratives in relationship to Witi Ihimaera’s science fiction novella, The Purity of Ice --a rewriting of Moby Dick that images a post-apocalyptic future where the commodification of glaciers as a water source as “islands on sale” is conducted by an Indigenous corporation. This narrative of commodification is complicated by the animacy of water which contests the capitalist boundaries between life and non-life, and gestures towards Māori discovery narratives on the one hand, and the ways in which Indigenous ontologies naturalize claims to extraterrestrial spaces on the other.  

Islands as Metaphor and Method
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