Roundtable title: Imagining Interspecies Kinship, Earth’s Aliveness, and an Ecological Civilization: On the Cultural Work of Fantasy in the Anthropocene
Participants: Marek Oziewicz, Andrea Casals, Tereza Dědinová & Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak
Title: Hills in Her Bones and the Soul of Land in Her Head: Permaculture Ethics in Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching Series
Abstract: Overcoming the imagined separation between humanity and nature is critical for enabling a biospheric civilisation and reconceptualising humankind as an integral part of the biosphere. This presentation examines the Tiffany Aching Series as Pratchett’s attempt to confront the modern concept of the self as distinct and detached from nature in favour of the symbiotic coexistence of these two realms. The series is analysed from the perspective of the permaculture ethic—especially its core components: care for Earth, care for people and fair share—which emphasises both the intrinsic value of nature and the need for environmental justice. After introducing permaculture and its philosophical and practical value in addressing the anthropogenic environmental crisis, the presentation considers the extent to which the series incorporates permaculture elements. Tiffany is both metaphorically and literally connected to the land. She knows her place in the network connecting individual organisms and their environments, which enables her to draw on nature’s power in ways that would otherwise be impossible for a “separated” individual. The series presents the Chalk—Tiffany’s homeland—as a conscious being comprised of a larger whole with human and inhuman inhabitants. Pratchett emphasizes the mutually nurturing relationship between people and land, decentralizing people by making them a part of the whole rather than its centre. Drawing on the affordances of fantasy, the Tiffany Aching series voices values of environmental modesty, self-restraint, and voluntary responsibility. The argument is made that by challenging the separation of the self from nature, Pratchett stumbles into articulations of a position that aligns with the principles of permaculture. The paper also reflects on the relationship between permaculture ethics and fantasy in general, suggesting that the two enterprises share several promising overlaps, and thus fantasy has a potential for inspiring biospheric environmental concerns, particularly in young readers.
Bio: Tereza Dědinová is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Arts of the Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. She focuses on speculative fiction from cognitive and ecocritical perspectives. Her recent projects are co-edited volumes Images of the Anthropocene in Speculative Fiction, with Weronika Łaszkiewicz and Sylwia Borowska-Szerszun (2021) and Fantasy and Myth in the Anthropocene with Marek Oziewicz and Brian Attebery (2022). She is currently working on an ecocritical issue of the scholarly journal Česká literatura, and within the non-profit organization Institut 2050 is participating in a project focused on effective environmental communication.