استعمار اروپایی ها در آمریکای شمالی به آسیب ها و بحران های محیطی و اکولوژیک فراوانی در این قاره پهناور منتج شد. تا پیش از ورود اروپایی ها به آمریکا، جنگل های این قاره با وجود سکونت هزاران ساله بومیان آمریکایی در آنها سرشار از منابع طبیعی بکر بودند. مهاجران اروپایی که با عبور از اقیانوس اطلس پا بر سواحل شرقی آمریکایی شمالی نهادند با انبوهی از اراضی جنگلی، حیوانات وحشی و روان آب های زلال مواجه شدند که به آنها نوید ساختن آینده ای روشن می دادند. این پژوهش با بهره گیری از نقد بوم گرا و با تکیه بر مفاهیم انسان مداری و زیست مداری به بررسی رمان چساپیکه( 1978) از جیمز ای میچنر می پردازد تا نشان دهد برخلاف بومیان آمریکایی که خود را بخشی از طبیعت می دانستند و نه حاکم بر آن، استعمار گران اروپایی که متاثر از جهان بینی انسان مداری بودند از هیچ تلاشی برای نیل به اهداف اقتصادی خود از طریق نابود کردن طبیعت و موجودات زنده فروگذار نکردند. این مقاله که پژوهشی مبتنی بر تحقیق کتابخانه ای به شمار می آید، با مبانی نظری آغاز می شود و در ادامه به بررسی نمونه های عینی مفاهیم نظری در رمان چساپیکه می پردازد. در همین راستا ضمن ارزیابی آثار ویرانگر ایدئولوژی انسان مداری در چارچوب نقد بوم گرا مصادیق جنگل زدایی گسترده، که یکی از نتایج فاجعه بار رواج انسان مداری در بین اروپایی های ساکن آمریکای شمالی بود، در رمان چساپیکه به تفصیل مورد بحث قرار خواهد گرفت. هدف اصلی نگارش این مقاله به چالش کشیدن نظرات انتقادی پاره ای از پژوهشگران و انسان شناسان اروپایی در رابطه با نقش مخرب بومیان آمریکایی در از دست رفتن منابع طبیعی آمریکای شمالی است. پژوهش حاضر ضمن تشریح نمونه های عینی تخریب محیط زیست در رمان مورد بررسی، نظریه های این محققین را زیر سوال می برد و نشان می دهد بومیان نه تنها نقشی در تخریب طبیعت ندارند بلکه همواره دارای دغدغه حفظ دنیای پیرامون خود و مظاهر زیبایی آن نیز هستند.
عنوان مقاله [English]
Anthropocentrism vs Biocentrism: The Treatment of the Natural World by Human Subjects in James A. Michener’s Chesapeake
Introduction: As a prominent American novelist, James A. Michener wrote twenty-six novels and won several literary prizes, including the Pulitzers Prize for Fiction in 1948. Michener was preoccupied with the reflection of the European colonialism of North America and its detrimental environmental and ecological consequences, including deforestation and massive slaughter of wild animals, in his novels. Likewise, he exhibits the deleterious consequences of European settlement on the natural world in Chesapeake (1978). The white explorers and colonists who settle in the New World relentlessly burn forestlands to prepare vast lands for the cultivation of tobacco that was indeed a “cash crop” in North America. Euro-American anthropologists and researchers, including Shepard Krech III, have referred to indigenous North Americans as savage and uncivilized subjects with a cultural background that has always endorsed the devastation of nature and its inhabitants. Distorting the real cause of environmental damages, Krech asserts that Native Americans deliberately burned ancient forests, fell myriads of trees, and slaughtered countless numbers of buffaloes prior to the commencement of European settlement. He contends that the depredations of indigenes had induced the depletion of natural resources. Nevertheless, an examination of several novels of the Native American Renaissance, including Chesapeake, that mirror the adverse environmental and ecological outcomes of the European colonization of the New World, indicates that these allegations debunks these allegations. The present study seeks to challenge the claims raised by certain Euro-Americans concerning the injurious interventions of Native Americans through an ecocritical exegesis of Chesapeake. It shall be indicated that the prevalence of anthropocentrism among the European settlers induces environmental catastrophes in the New World. Moreover, this research shall exhibit that the Native Americans live in harmony with the natural world in that they believe in biocentrism rather than anthropocentrism.
Chesapeake has not been sufficiently dealt with in critical articles and books to date. Marilyn S. Severson (1996) focuses on the exploration of human tolerance that he considers an essential value in Chesapeake. She maintains that Michener is critical of various sorts of discriminations imposed on both black and white individuals in his seminal novel. Race and religion are the two significant sources of discrimination in Chesapeake. Racism is a powerful impetus instigating the white colonizers to commit genocide following the dispossession of Native Americans. African slaves are the second group of wretched individuals brutally tortured in Chesapeake. According to Severson, “the black slaves are considered a possession similar to a ship or a wagon” (100). The slightest insubordination among the miserable slaves leads to horrible forms of torture. Nonetheless, discrimination does not affect merely Native Americans and African slaves. Severson remarks that since Michener was preoccupied with the tolerance of different religious groups in most of his novels, he focuses on this issue in one of the chapters of Chesapeake. Stuart G. Leyden (1979) examines, in his article, the depiction of religious tolerance in Chesapeake. Referring to Michener as a “preachy moralistic writer,” Leyden contends that Christian morality was a significant concern for Michener. He compares Pentaquod, a fugitive Native American who abandons his hostile tribe to join a peaceful group of Native Americans, with the Quakers who are persistently persecuted by authorities in Michener’s novel. Pentaquod and the Quakers, Leyden argues, are both outcasts among their people. Ironically, these outcasts are peaceful individuals. They are coerced and beaten due to religious or political dissidence. Apart from religious tolerance, Leyden maintains, the struggle for women’s rights is also highlighted in Chesapeake. He argues that Rosalind Steed and Ruth Brinton exert themselves to end the brutal whipping of women for misconduct in that they firmly believe in human dignity and equality of men and women. Glenn Uminowicz’s article, published in a magazine title Tidewater Times (2008), compares Michener’s concern for animals in Chesapeake with the endeavors of Thornton Waldo Burgess (1874 –1965), a conservationist and an author of children’s stories, to raise the public awareness concerning the necessity of preserving non-human species. Uminowicz contends that Michener was inspired by Burgess who utilized anthropomorphism in his short stories. Similarly, he maintains, Michener uses animal characters in Chesapeake to teach his readers about the life of animals in Maryland. Hence, he argues that Michener plays the role of Burgess for adults. As Burgess wrote about a duck, named Mrs. Quack, which exerted to save her family from the guns of hunters, Michener focuses, in the eighth chapter of Chesapeake, on the perils awaiting ducks in Maryland during autumn when they arrive from Canada. According to Uminowicz, Michener portrays a family of geese headed by Onk-or to depict the complex strategies animals undertake to escape the terrible guns of white hunters.
Materials and Method: The present study could be categorized as a qualitative literature-based research whose accomplishment required extensive academic and library research. Since this article is classified as a research project in the humanities, its critical argument rests upon a specific theoretical framework. Rather than statistical analysis, a particular approach to literary criticism was utilized to interpret the selected novel. Likewise, a variety of scholarly writings addressing ecocriticism, anthropocentrism and biocentrism were scheduled to be scrutinized prior to the commencement of writing the manuscript. Moreover, as a research work categorized under the field of applied research, this study sought to present a detailed survey of the sample. Hence, the critical investigation of the selected novel was carried out through the application of the critical concepts of anthropocentrism and biocentrism. As a qualitative research, the present study began with theoretical assumptions and subsequently focused on the representations of the critical concepts in the selected novel.
Conclusion: The world portrayed by Michener in Chesapeake drastically undergoes adverse alterations following the onset of European settlement. The prevalence of anthropocentrism among the European settlers induces detrimental environmental consequences in the New World. Comparing and contrasting the treatment of the natural world by the Euro-Americans and Indigenous North Americans, the present study indicates that the Natives do not make any effort to damage the environment. This research reveals that contrary to the false accusations raised by Shepard Krech III and other white researchers against Native Americans, the Indigenes in Michener’s novel prove to be preoccupied by the preservation of natural resources. The benign treatment of animals by the Natives, and their agitation upon the burning of trees by Edmund and Simon, indicates that in contrast with the European immigrants they firmly believe in biocentrism.