Pratiksha Pradhan is a PhD scholar in English at the Department of Languages and Literature, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Andhra Pradesh, India. Her doctoral research focuses on ecology and media pertaining to literature from northeast India and riverine oral narratives, testimonies, and documentaries. She is a recipient of the University Grants Commission’s Savitribai Jyotirao Phule Single Girl Child Fellowship for doctoral research scholars. She has presented papers at international conferences such as IACLALS Conf-2023, SSSIHL DLL-E Lit-Treat Edition IV, and IITM INMS Conf-2023.
Vijayalekshmi Ramachandran (PhD) is an Assistant Professor of English at the Department of Languages and Literature, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Andhra Pradesh, India. She was a recipient of the Junior Research Fellowship by the University Grants Commission and Matching Funds Tuition Grant by the School of Criticism and Theory, Cornell University. Her research and teaching interests include multispecies curriculum designing and life-writing, ecological studies, popular culture studies, translation studies, and literary studies. Her publications include Past Modernism: Aesthetics and Science of the Everyday in Poornachandra Tejaswi and several essays.
Rivers and Their Trysts with Humans in the Wasteocene: A Study of Selected Documentaries on Teesta and Mekong
Abstract: This paper looks at the transboundary trajectories of two rivers as they meander through geographical regions, cutting across national boundaries. One is River Teesta, the life and spirit of the people who live in its basin in India and Bangladesh, frequently figuring in the oral narratives of communities whose cultural identities are inextricably linked with it. In recent times, there has been a spate of documentaries on the river and the communities that coexist with it, such as Taming the Teesta (Taylor Graham 2015), Voices of Teesta (Minket Lepcha 2016), River Teesta (Ronald Halder 2017), and Tale of a Barrage (Jahanara Nuri 2021). The second set of documentaries that the paper analyses relate to River Mekong, whose transboundary waters are entangled with the lives and livelihoods of the humans in Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China. The documentaries analyzed include Mekong (Douglas Varchol 2012), Mighty Mekong: Mother River of Southeast Asia (Channel News Asia 2012), Mekong: Soul of a River (Animal Planet 2013), The Mekong River with Sue Perkins (BBC 2014), and A River Screams for Mercy: Murdering the Mekong (Tom Fawthrop 2022). The paradigm shift from the Anthropocene to the posthuman Wasteocene through the Capitalocene has affected the destinies of Teesta and Mekong, dam(m/n)ing them up and changing the dynamics of their many entangled relationships from symbiosis to ecoprecarity. The theoretical lens of the Wasteocene is extended here, as the shifting socio-ecological relations create not only wasted people and wasted species, but also wasted places and wasted waters.
Keywords: rivers, transboundary, documentaries, Teesta, Mekong, symbiosis, dams, ecoprecarity, Anthropocene, Wasteocene