Climate Change and Ecocide in Sierra Leone: Representations in Aminatta Forna’s Ancestor Stones and The Memory of Love




Sierra Leone, civil war, ecocide, eco-anxiety, climate trauma, climate change, narrative fiction, Aminatta Forna


War has been instrumental in destroying land and forests and thus is a major contributor to climate change. Degradation due to war has been especially significant in Africa. The African continent, once green, is now almost denuded of its rich forests and pillaged of its precious natural resources due to the brutality of colonisation and more recent postcolonial civil wars. In Sierra Leone the civil war continued for over eleven years from 1991 to 2002 and wrought havoc on the land and forests. Thus the anxiety and trauma suffered by the people not only includes the more visible aspects of human brutality, but also the long lasting effects of ecocide which relate to climate change. Underlying narratives that address traumatic ecological disasters is a sense of anxiety and depression resulting from the existential threat of climate change. This paper demonstrates how narratives can metaphorically represent both ecocide and climate change and argues that such stories help people in tackling the real life stresses of  anxiety and trauma. To establish the argument this paper has drawn on scientific and sociological data and placed these vis-à-vis narrative episodes in Aminatta Forna’s novels Ancestor Stones (2006) and The Memory of Love (2010). In these novels Forna depicts the ecological crisis that colonisation and civil war have wrought on Sierra Leone. The anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder – of war and ecocide – suffered by the fictional Sierra Leonean characters are explained through Cathy Caruth’s trauma theory.  

Author Biographies

Shruti Das, Berhampur University, Odisha, India

Dr Shruti Das is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of English and the Associate Director of the Centre for Canadian Studies, Berhampur University, India. She recently won the Prestigious ASLE Biennial Travel Award for 2019. She has written the Foreword for Crisis of Imagination, a book on Ecocriticism, published by the University of Rzeszow, Poland. She has published 11 books and over 60 research articles and creative works in National and International Journals. Her special interests are Critical Theory, Eco-criticism, South Asian Feminism, Postcolonialism, Indian Literature and Aesthetics, Linguistics and ELT.

Deepshikha Routray, Maharishi College of Natural Law, Odisha, India

Dr Deepshikha Routray is a Lecturer of English at Maharishi College of Natural Law, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. She has presented papers at various National and International conferences. She has published research papers in reputed journals and compleed her PhD at Berhampur University. Her research interests include Trauma Literature, Cognitive psychology and Indian classical literature. She is also the Associate Editor of Literary Oracle, a peer-reviewed journal.


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How to Cite

Das, S., & Routray, D. (2021). Climate Change and Ecocide in Sierra Leone: Representations in Aminatta Forna’s Ancestor Stones and The Memory of Love. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 20(2), 221–239.