Environmental justice, cosmopolitics, and climate change

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the Amazon basin, stories about pink dolphins living in cities under the world’s largest river are common. In oral traditions, they show up as lovers, seducers, and are thought of as “humans” who live normal, if somewhat luxurious, lives under the water. In a poem titled “Pink Dolphins,” in his chapbook Amazonia, Columbian American poet Juan Carlos Galeano writes of dolphins that “dress in pink / to soften the hate in men’s eyes.” Dolphins in the poem wonder, “How can they hate us if we make love like they do?” Galeano has also published a collection of oral traditions, Folklore of the Amazon, in which dolphins transform themselves into humans, and lure the humans with whom they consort to their underwater homes. In one story, a woman named Maria gives birth to twin baby dolphins and her relatives simply take it in stride. Although it is considered bad luck to kill one, local people believe that the celebrated virility of pink dolphins, who “grow pubic hair” at night and “go out stealing women” as Galeano phrases it in the poem, can be transferred to humans through the ritualized use of their organs as amulets. Galeano does not, however, romanticize oral traditions. In his documentary film, The Trees have Mothers: Amazonian Cosmologies, Folktales, and Mystery, he takes a hard look at the ways poverty is exacerbated in a region suffering persistent drought, pollution, overfishing, and erosion. The film examines the ways both oral traditions and lack of economic opportunity pull residents into local markets where it is easy to sell dried dolphin penises or vaginas, cut from animals caught accidently in fishing nets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to
Subtitle of host publicationLiterature and the Environment
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages169-183
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781139342728
ISBN (Print)9781107029927
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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