Marine Entanglements: Tropical Materialism and Hydrographic Imaginary in Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon
Keywords:Tropical Materialism, Nnedi Okorafor, Hydrographic Imaginary, Hyperobjects, Material Determinant, Afrofuturism, Sci-Fi
In the epoch of the Anthropocene the environment is predominantly characterised by innumerable entanglements of matter. According to materialist theorist Jane Bennett, matter acts as a ‘distributive agency’ that intertwines itself with a “multiplicity of other material bodies and formations'' across space and time (Khan, 2012, p. 42). Nnedi Okorafor’s novel Lagoon (2014) centres around the material entanglement scenario between oil and marine waters off the coast of Nigeria in Africa. Okorafor’s Afrofuturist Science Fiction narrative focuses on oil’s vitality and overwhelming presence in the tropical marinescape and elaborates on the significance of oil as a material determinant that forces us to rethink matter’s affective influence in the marinescapes of the tropics. This article analyses how human extracted matter like oil acts as a vital agentic force that confronts, reconfigures, and modifies the physical compositional properties of marine water. The article employs tropical materialism to study the performative role of matter as a ‘hyperobjective’ register within the constructed eco(aqua)-speculative and hydrographic imaginary of Okorafor’s Sci-Fi narrative.
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