Daniel Williams deposited Life among the Vermin: Nineveh and Ecological Relocation in the group LLC 20th- and 21st-Century English and Anglophone on MLA Commons 2 years, 11 months ago
Henrietta Rose-Innes’s novel Nineveh (2011) catalogs the activities of a humane pest expert as she discovers, on an estate under construction outside Cape Town, how human and insect actors undermine the spatial expectations of post-apartheid South Africa. Rose-Innes advances a vision of interspecies connection by recasting controversial themes drawn from South Africa’s history to address ecological concerns. Rose-Innes transforms South African literature’s “vermin” imaginary to collapse figurative boundaries among humans and nonhumans, and repurposes the fraught concept of “relocation” to spotlight creaturely entanglements in the post-apartheid city. These gestures of reclamation produce a representational tension, reframing immediate political matters to focus on more durable ecological concerns. Yet Nineveh further tilts these discourses into an “ethics of transience” attentive to ecological scale but still cognizant of historical and ongoing injustices. The novel thus undertakes an “ecological relocation,” understood along the lines of the essay’s three movements as figurative interchange, spatial transit, and perceptual rescaling.