Lauren Rebecca Clark (PhD) completed a Leverhulme PhD at the University of Sunderland, with a dissertation on Irish advertising, consumer culture and literature (Peter Lang). She has taught in the fields of literature and linguistics in higher education institutions in Oman, Thailand, Hong Kong, and the People’s Republic of China. She publishes in the fields of literature and history and currently focuses on the environmental humanities, particularly in environmental justice and ecopoetics. She is a Lecturer at the Integrative Center for Humanities Innovation, Faculty of Humanities, Chiangmai University.
Human and More-than-human Migration and Invasion in Cauvery Madhavan’s Fiction
Abstract: Cauvery Madhavan’s novels Paddy Indian (2001) and The Tainted (2020) address issues of migration, war, and identity in Southeast Asian (Indian) cultures. They also focus on migration, interactions of animal and plant species, as well as diseases. The Tainted mediates Anglo-Indian with (Anglo)Irish experiences from pre-independence India and Ireland up until the 1980s. Madhavan prefaces The Tainted discussing the Connaught Rangers regiment in India. Paddy Indian (2001) focuses on the singular plight of an Indian doctor working in Dublin. The latter is a humorous novel though no less connected to postcolonial and ecocritical approaches, as well as critical plant and animal studies. Madhavan’s characters are displaced, restricted, and discriminated against due to their (mixed) ethnicities. Her more-than-human characters are invasive species and unwanted diseases which accompany the processes of cultural migration and India’s history of colonialism. The humanistic and more-than-human approaches to migration in Ireland and in India will be discussed in this paper. By humanistic, the author refers to the tendency to frame human beings in an anthropocentric way, implying dominance in a hierarchy where the human species and its outputs has a vantage point. Drawing from the Feral Atlas (2020) project, more-than-human aspects of migration and invasion that appear in Madhavan’s work will be scrutinized. Here, the “feral qualities” of the ecosystem of migration (in both Indian and Irish communities) in more-than-human entities are highlighted. For instance, the regiment in The Tainted is threatened by transmitters of cholera, dysentery, rabies mosquito, and snake bites, whereas in Paddy Indian medical conditions migrate with Dr Padhman into hostile territories.
Keywords: Southeast Asian literature, ferality, critical plant and animal studies, ecocriticism, postcolonialism