Engaging the imagination: ‘new nature writing’, collective politics and the environmental crisis
Journal article by Kate Oakley, Jonathan Ward and Ian Christie
Environmental Values, 27 (6)
This paper explores the potential of ‘new nature writing’ – a literary genre currently popular in the UK – as a kind of arts activism, in particular, how it might engage with the environmental crisis and lead to a kind of collective politics.
Taking seriously the claims of art to enable us to imagine other futures, the paper is suggesting that new nature writing has the potential to play a role in collective forms of environmental justice and capabilities: By drawing attention to both beauty and potential loss, by placing humans back within the natural world, and by giving us tools with which to express and understand that connection, new nature writing may strengthen feelings of place attachment.
The complex and untidy cat’s cradle of new nature writing opens a plurality of readings and meaningful engagements, which, understood through a capabilities approach, does not reduce place to something static and defensive; thus offering a viable alternative to the rising reactionary form of the extreme nationalism.