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Volume 40, Number 2 (2015)

Forests, Clearings, and the Spaces in Between: Reading Land Claims and the Actuality of Context in Ana Historic

May 11, 2016


“Women are ground, women are nature,” writes British Columbian poet, novelist, and critic Daphne Marlatt in “Self-Representation and Fictionanalysis,” a paper that maps and theorizes the work she does in her 1988 novel Ana Historic. Such claims by Marlatt have brought on accusations of essentialism from critics, who have read Marlatt’s writings “as advancing a reductive search for origins.” While this article doesn’t read her claim of an essential female connectivity with ‘ground’ and ‘nature’ as reductive, it does see in it, and in Ana Historic’s various references to indigeneity, an invitation to wrestle with the problematics of seeking self-identity with the land when dwelling on contested ground. This article, as it examines Ana Historic’s penetration and translation of British Columbia’s south coastal space, argues that while the novel is critical of the province’s male narratives of resource extraction and settlement, it is itself actively engaged in an appropriative ordering of geography that posits that identity may be wrought from the space where forest and clearing meet.