Two Archipelagoes and One Planet: Writer-Activist Michiko Ishimure’s Island-Sea Poetics

Event time: 
Thursday, February 16, 2023 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Rosenkranz Hall (RKZ), 202 See map
115 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

In this lecture, Marran offers an analysis of island chains in the work of famed writer-activist Michiko Ishimure. Marran shows how Ishimure’s approach to island-chains offers an ecopolitical perspective that rejects geopolitical and ethnic identities as primary modes of belonging. Foregrounded will be a new materialist analysis that uses Marran’s concept of the biotrope to analyze the intersection of biological and cultural formations. Questions to be answered include: how does Ishimure address local island-sea chains in relation to the main archipelago of Japan?; what do the two contemporaries Ishimure and Édouard Glissant share in their archipelagic thinking?; is Ishimure offering an island-sea poetics that can be conceptualized as “planetary?”
Christine Marran specializes in the fields of environmental humanities, critical theory, and gender studies. She is Professor of Japanese Literature and Cultural Studies in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Co-Convener of the Environmental Humanities Initiative at the University of Minnesota. Through a new materialist approach, Marran’s work addresses how those in area studies can more deliberately contend with the more-than-human world in this age of rising seas. In her analysis of animal and plant life, archipelagoes and climate in narrative and moving images, Marran offers strategies for reading and interpreting more-than-human elements in the work of activist-writers and filmmakers in the Japanese archipelago. Selected works include Ecology Without Culture: Aesthetics for a Toxic Age, “Planetarity” in boundary 2; “Literature Without Us,” in Ishimure Michiko’s Writing in Ecocritical Perspective: Between Sea and Sky; “Animal Stranger in a Tokyo Canal” in Japan at Nature’s Edge: The Environmental Context of a Global Power and other works.

Christine Marran - Professor of Japanese Literature and Cultural Studies, University of Minnesota