Cajetan Iheka’s book Naturalizing Africa: Ecological Violence, Agency, and Postcolonial Resistance in African Literature has been awarded the 2020 First Book Award from the African Literature Association. Naturalizing Africa had previously won the 2019 Ecocritical Book Award from the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment.
“Naturalizing Africa brings together the previously separate conversations of postcolonial ecocriticism, environmental justice, and new materialism. It deftly weaves together the work of major ecocritical scholars such as Nixon, Haraway, Caminero-Santangelo, Iovino and Oppermann, and sharply critiques a status quo (the anthropocentrism of postcolonial studies). It explores the uncomfortable fact that the struggle for human liberation can cause ecological harm. In so doing, it foregrounds the question of how the autonomy of nonhuman nature–and disparate needs of human and nonhuman populations–can be factored into accounts of anti-colonial resistance. While it is not the first to discuss the role of non-humans in postcolonial ecocriticism, it is more ambitious and nuanced than those that have come before, and close readings of familiar and less-often-studied African texts nicely model its intervention. Above all, Naturalizing Africa’s discussion of the environmental politics of postcolonial resistance is bold, refreshing, and timely.”