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The Disposition of NatureEnvironmental Crisis and World Literature$
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Jennifer Wenzel

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823286782

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823286782.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

From Waste Lands to Wasted Lives: Enclosure as Aesthetic Regime and Property Regime

From Waste Lands to Wasted Lives: Enclosure as Aesthetic Regime and Property Regime

(p.141) Chapter 3 From Waste Lands to Wasted Lives: Enclosure as Aesthetic Regime and Property Regime
The Disposition of Nature

Jennifer Wenzel

Fordham University Press

This chapter traces relationships between material processes and cultural logics of enclosure. Waste landland not under cultivation, producing no revenue for the state—was the raw material of colonial capitalism. Waste also names the by-products of such transformations: lives and lands laid waste. These processes entail ways of seeing and knowing; aesthetic regimes help to naturalize property regimes. The literary personification of nature (as in the pathetic fallacy) is bound up with the objectification of humans: aesthetic renderings of landscape can reinforce a dehumanizing, anti-commons common sense. These resource logics understand nature as separate from humans, disposed for their use, and subject to their control. The chapter considers the role of European imperialism in consolidating ideas about nature and natural resources, situating new materialist accounts of non-human agency within a broader historical context. Mahasweta Devi’s “Dhowli” anchors an examination of a worldwide history of waste, which begins (for John Locke) when “all the world was America.” Devi’s story bears the traces of successive waves of conquest and enclosure in India and offers an Anthropocene allegory avant la lettre—which the chapter juxtaposes with East India Company officials’ observations of the effects of deforestation, a foundation for modern climate science.

Keywords:   commons, East India Company, enclosure, climate change, deforestation, Mahasweta Devi, John Locke, pathetic fallacy, personification, waste

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