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Going Local in the Global: A Canadian Literary Bioregional Turn Open Access


Other title
New Materialism
Canadian Literature
Nature Writing
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Szabo-Jones, Lisa S
Supervisor and department
Dianne Chisholm, English and Film Studies
Examining committee member and department
Julie Rak, English and Film Studies
Sarah Krotz, English and Film Studies
Liza Piper, Department of History
Douglas Ivison, Department of English, Lakewood University, Thunder Bay
Christine Stewart (Chair), English and Film Studies
Department of English and Film Studies
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Going Local in the Global: A Canadian Literary Bioregional Turn confronts assumptions that bioregionalism with its restricted focus on the local limits apprehension of global environmental issues. Some proponents of cosmopolitanism argue that bioregionalism and its precursor regionalism do not have the full potential for cultivating a global ecoliteracy because of a traditional advocacy for a parochial-minded ‘staying put.’ A bioregion’s (bio)diverse cultural and material organization, however, particularly as it is represented in literature, refutes such a myopic globalist criticism and initiates a need to redefine what ‘staying put’ actually entails within a bioregional context. Bioregional literature that departs from strictly social or political demarcations of territorial boundaries, and which focuses on the interactions between humans and other-than-humans and both with their habitats, defies simple categorizations of what or who is at home. Rather, these writings’ focus on specificities of place open pathways into the complex entanglements, disruptions and flows of material and cultural interplay that co-constitute the local and the global as convergent, divergent and emergent processes. To capture the nuances of a bioregional vitality, we need an equally pluralistic, unsettling reading practice. We need one that is as adaptive and open to diversity, disruption, and unpredictability as the place itself. Few aspects of the local are or remain fixed in/to place. Some of these unsettlings are due to anthropogenic incursions, while others emerge as effects of millennial-long or abrupt local biogeoclimatic processes independent of human interference. These unsettlings, represented by their materialized local outcomes (migrations and pollution, for instance) demonstrate that neither the global nor the local exist in isolation: they co-constitute each other. The equilibrium sought, then, is in ethical, respectful relations between humans and between humans and the biophysical world in which they are immersed—despite and in the face of change and disturbance. If change is constant, then perhaps global and local equilibrium is through negotiating mutual concern in that constancy, informed by philosophical and scientific ecological principles, for an increasingly devastated biophysical environment. Bioregional literature offers one such means for conveying these principles in a meaningful, aesthetic form to promote the development of ecoliteracy.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
Citation for previous publication
Szabo-Jones, L. "Adventures in Habitat: An Urban Tale" Canadian Literature 218 (Autumn 2013): 47-64.

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