Phacharawan Boonpromkul received a BA and MA in English from the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University. She is an Assistant Professor at the Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University, Thailand, where she has been teaching since 2012. Her areas of interests include ecocriticism, environmental crisis in fiction, children’s and young adult literature, and literature and women. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Animal Impersonation, Ecojustice, and Mariam the Dugong in the Video Clip “Don’t Let Mariam Die for Nothing” (2019)
Abstract: Produced by the Department of Environment Quality Promotion of Thailand, the Thai video clip อย่าปล่อยให้มาเรียมตายฟรี (2019) [Don’t Let Mariam Die for Nothing] features a man standing trial for littering and killing several animals, including Mariam, a famous dugong in Thailand. This research paper examines (1) the method of animal impersonation used to give voices to nonhumans in this video, (2) the issue of ecojustice concerning environmental crimes and legal enforcement, and (3) the use of dugongs (and Mariam in particular) as a representation of endangered species. The research found that the representation of animal characters produces inconsistent messages and ludicrous effects despite the serious matter at hand. In addition, regarding the theme of environmental justice, the mock courtroom drama invites a comparison between the verdict given in this video and the real penalty in current environmental regulations. Also, the video forwards an argument that littering is an environmental crime but does so in a reductive manner. Lastly, it is crucial that the video’s keystone character is Mariam, a real young dugong raised under the care of the locals and medical staff, before it got sick and died in 2019, allegedly from plastic consumption. The article demonstrates how Mariam featured prominently in the media and how its death became a big call on environmentalism and animal conservation largely due to anthropomorphic representation. Importantly, these findings can spark off debate in the field of ecocriticism, environmental ethics, environmental laws, and environmental communication.
Keywords: animal impersonation, environmental justice in fiction, Mariam the dugong, environmental communication