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The Aesthetics of the Tide: The Ecosystem as Matrix for Transculturation in Amitav Ghosh's "The Hungry Tide"

ContributorsBarras, Arnaud
Presented atTransculturation and Aesthetics, Bergen (Norvège), 31 août-2 septembre
Publication date2012
Abstract

Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide explores the meeting of different cultural environmental attitudes in the Sundarbans, a mangrove and tidal region at the border of India and Bangladesh, where the fresh waters of the river Ganges encounter the seawaters of the Gulf of Bengal. The confluence of sea and river water currents in the countless channels composing the delta creates a profuse mangrove ecosystem where diversity thrives. In the novel, Ghosh makes an analogy between the confluence of water currents and the confluence of cultural currents: he uses the ecological phenomenon as a frame of reference for representing the cultural diversity brought about by the many migration waves of the 20th century. The ecosystem of the Tide is a matrix for representing transculturation. In this presentation, I will argue that The Hungry Tide creates a unique aesthetics of transculturation based on the tidal ecosystem of the Sundarbans: in the novel, transculturation ought to be seen as the confluence of cultures. This Aesthetics of the Tide allows the reader to think the process of transculturation in new ways: cultures are perceived as dynamic forces that shape the environment, each other and human populations; they are an integral part of the ecosystem. Thus, when the foreign protagonists enter the Sundarbans, they undergo a trans(cultural)formation that gives them an insight into the way of life of the local population: the boundaries between cultures are dissolved—just like the boundaries between river and sea are dissolved. In many ways, the Tide Country is a locus of transculturation.

Keywords
  • Ecosystem
  • Environment
  • Transculturation
  • India
  • Literature
  • Bangladesh
  • Sundarbans
  • Ghosh
  • Amitav
  • Narrative
  • Aesthetics
Citation (ISO format)
BARRAS, Arnaud. The Aesthetics of the Tide: The Ecosystem as Matrix for Transculturation in Amitav Ghosh’s ‘The Hungry Tide’. In: Transculturation and Aesthetics. Bergen (Norvège). 2012.
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