"There's something hostile in that soil:" Unruly Ecology as Counter-Memory in A Passage to India

Çimen R.

The Prof. Süheyla Artemel Lectures: Memory in Literature and Culture, İstanbul, Turkey, 22 October 2021, pp.1-2

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: İstanbul
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-2
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Despite their emancipatory potential, studies in counter-memory have been predominantly anthropocentric in that they have taken the category of the human as the main frame of reference. Both Foucault’s body of work and contemporary approaches - material ecocriticism and posthumanism- address the field of memory as an entangled mesh of relations between human and nonhuman actors. E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India allows room for a study of memory in this respect as it maps out numerous instances where nonhuman members of the Indian ecosystem mount a counter-memorial resistance against colonialism. The human-centred definition of agency in Western philosophy is re-evaluated in the novel with an emphasis on nonhuman agents as well. Claiming visibility at any time in the functioning of daily life, these agents subvert the anthropocentric thinking that aims to shape the world of objects hierarchically with a firm belief in autonomous and rational subjectivity. The coupling of post-anthropocentric approach with counter-memory opens up space for an authentic mode of reading because in this way, the privileged position of the human can be interrogated not only in the “here and now” but also in the wider memory of the planet. This paper aims to focus on the counter-memorial challenges coming from other-than-human agents in the novel, and inspired by the works of Michel Foucault, Karen Barad and Serenella Iovino, it offers in the concluding part a new term, counter-memorial intra-actions, to the field of counter-memory studies.