Numer 14 (1/2021)
Rivers of the Americas
Redaktorzy: Manlio Della Marca, Uwe Lübken
Spis treści
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Paweł Jędrzejko
Inhabiting the River. Musings on Boulevards and Arteries
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.11704
5 – 12
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America | Rivers | Canada | St. Laurent River | Robert Charlebois | songs | river as artery

Streszczenie

This introductory essay revisits the multidimensionality of the river conceived of as a system of "communicating vessels," both literally and metaphorically. Drawing upon fine arts, poetry, biology, and philosophy, the argument organizing this text presents the river as a non-human, albeit often anthropomorphized, subjectivity, and serves to remind the reader of the universality of the neverending flow of essence and thought. Moored to the tides, humankind depends on the flow understood both in terms of the circulation of the ever-changing matter, but also in terms of the circulation of values. A human subject, dependent on other (not necessarily human, and not necessarily animate) subjectivities, recognizing the importance of the river as a living artery and as a principal agent of change, re-discovers the necessity to adopt the position of stewardship rather than that of ownership with respect to the world-in-flux that he or she inhabits. 


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Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach

Manlio Della Marca,
Uwe Lübken
“Down Beside where the Waters Flow": Reclaiming Rivers for American Studies (Introduction)
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.12459
13 – 24
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Słowa kluczowe

Introduction | Rivers | river cultures | Rivers of the Americas | riverscapes

Streszczenie

Over the past three decades, rivers have become a fascinating and popular subject of scholarly interest, not only in the field of environmental history, where river histories have developed into a distinct subgenre, but also in the emerging field of environmental humanities. In this scholarship, rivers have often been reconceptualized as socio-natural sites where human and non-human actors interact with the natural world, generating complex legacies, path dependencies, and feedback loops. Furthermore, rivers have been described as hybrid “organic machines,” whose energy has been utilized by humans in many different ways, including the harvesting of both hydropower and salmon. Indeed, as several environmental historians have noted, in many regions of the world, watercourses have been transformed by technology to such an extent that they increasingly resemble enviro-technical assemblages rather than natural waterways. Rivers have also been discussed through the lens of “eco-biography,” a term coined by Mark Cioc in his influential monograph on the Rhine River, a book informed by “the notion that a river is a biological entity—that it has a ‘life’ and ‘a personality’ and therefore a ‘biography’.” Quite surprisingly, despite this “river turn” (to use Evenden's phrase), rivers have played a marginal role in recent American Studies scholarship. To address this gap, this issue of RIAS brings together scholars from different disciplines, countries, and continents to analyze a wide variety of river experiences, histories, and representations across the American hemisphere and beyond. Hence the title of this volume, Rivers of the Americas, should be seen as both an allusion to the Rivers of America book series (a popular series of sixty-five volumes, each on a particular US river, published between 1937 and 1974) and as a reminder of the still untapped potential of hemispheric, transnational, and comparative modes of critical engagement with rivers in American Studies.


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Manlio Della Marca
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Niemcy

Uwe Lübken
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Niemcy

Stéphane Castonguay,
Hubert Samson
Atikamekw and Euro-Canadian Territorialities around the Saint-Maurice River (1850–1930)
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.10017
25 – 47
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Canada | Saint-Maurice River | Atikamekw | territory | watershed | industrialization

Streszczenie

This essay focuses on the processes of territorialization, deterritorialization and reterritorialization through which Euro-Canadian society extended its control along the valley of the St. Maurice River between 1850 and 1930. That territory had been settled by the Atikamekw people where they had established their hunting and fishing grounds for centuries. However, the Atikamekw people were confronted by environmental and technological transformations around the St. Maurice River with the implementation of sociotechnical systems during that time period, as two successive phases of industrialization based on specific water use brought along a proliferation of urban centers and the arrival of the large-scale industry. This was particularly the case when the proliferation of hydroelectric dams along the St. Maurice River and its tributaries followed the construction of fluvial infrastructure to facilitate the floating of wood pulp harvested in the upper basin of the river. Not only did the technical activities surrounding the construction of hydroelectric facilities materially transform the St. Maurice River watershed, they also allowed a symbolic appropriation of the land by the production of maps and surveys that ‘erased’ the presence of the Atikamekw. Physical and symbolic boundaries resulting from these new forms of organization and configuration of the territory restricted the spatial practices and representations of the Atikamekw. Logging confined these people within isolated enclaves (the so-called “Indian reserves”), while dams bypassed their networks of exchange and communication. The aim of this essay is to understand the conflicts between the territorialities of the Atikamekw and that of the Euro-Canadians by focusing on the place of water uses within the geographical imaginations and the land use patterns of these populations.


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Stéphane Castonguay
Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Kanada

Hubert Samson
Groupe DDM, Quebec, Kanada

T.S. McMillin
"Strangers Still More Strange": The Meaning of Rivers Bedeviled
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.10267
49 – 75
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Mississippi River | Steamboat | Herman Melville | Literature and Interpretation

Streszczenie

Steamboats transformed rivers in 19th-century United States, providing what many people considered a kind of mastery over nature. In literature from the period, while most writers marveled at or exulted in that perceived mastery, some questioned the origins of the reputed conquest. Did it result from human ingenuity? divine inspiration? a deal with the devil? Amid all the fog, smoke, and various other vapors associated with the steamboat, vivid stories, compelling dramas, and comic searches for meaning took shape, and no literary work captured the tension informing, uncertainty surrounding, and ramifications emerging from this instance of technological innovation as powerfully as The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade (1857). Herman Melville’s last novel, The Confidence-Man explores the author’s notion that “Books of fiction” can perhaps give readers more truth, “more reality, than real life can show.” Literature, for Melville, was an opportunity to reconsider the nature of things and our means of understanding that nature. In The Confidence-Man, he presented readers with a different view of the Mississippi River and the curious vessels working its waters. The novel imagined The Devil himself to be on board the steamboat, imperiling the soul of America.


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Oberlin College, USA

Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted
Working Lives on the Mississippi and Volga Rivers. Nineteenth-Century Perspectives
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.10050
77 – 105
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Rivers | labor | race | barge hauler | African American

Streszczenie

Throughout the nineteenth century, major rivers assumed multiple roles for the emergent nation-states of the western world. The Thames in England, Seine in France, and Rhine in Germany all served as fodder for a growing sense of national identity. Offering a unity and uniqueness, the rivers were enlisted by poets, artiss, and writers to celebrate their country's strengths and aesthetic appeal. The Mississippi and Volga Rivers were no exceptions to this riverine evolution. At the same time, however, less vocal populations experienced the rivers differently. To African Americans--enslaved and free--laboring on the Mississippi offered a freedom of movement unknown to the land-bound.  While employed on steamships, African Americans escaped the vigilance of an overseer with the possibility to escape bondage. Still the work was demanding and relentless. To the burlaki, the Volga was taskmaster and nurturer. But for both groups, laboring on the rivers resulted in connections that were immediate, intimate, exacting, often tedious and brutal concomitant with marginalized lives, consigned to society's fringe. Still, the lives shaped by working on these rivers, produced rich cultures revealing alternative riverine histories. In these histories, the rivers possessed an agency, enshrining an ambiguity in humans' kinship to the environment; a complexity often missing in the national narratives. 


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Eastern Washington University, USA

Tricia Cusack
The Chosen People: The Hudson River School and the Construction of American Identity
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.11804
107 – 152
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Painting | The Hudson River School | American Identity | Christian identity | pilgrim-pioneer | fluidity | nationalist discourse

Streszczenie

This article considers nineteenth-century riverscapes of the Hudson in relation to the formation of American identity. It argues that riverscapes in the United States contributed to welding a national identity to a Christian one, although officially the identities were distinct. I examine the role of the Hudson River School in the creation of the ‘wilderness’ as an image of American homeland, and how this construct incorporated the iconic figure of the Euro-American Christian ‘pilgrim-pioneer.’ America looked more to the future than to the past for its national narrative, and an orientation to the future was symbolized in art by the flow of the Hudson toward distant horizons, while the pioneer identity was extended to embrace the entrepreneur-developer. The pioneer has remained an iconic figure for American nationalism, but is now more firmly located in the nation’s past; Janus’s gaze has been adjusted, demonstrating the potentially fluid character of nationalist discourse.

Paul Formisano
“First in Time, First in Right”: Indigenous Self-Determination in the Colorado River Basin
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.10049
153 – 175
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Colorado River | Environmental Justice | American Indian Sovereignity | Water Rights | Grand Canyon | Ten Tribes Partnership

Streszczenie

This article adopts the premise “first in time, first in right” to bring Indigenous knowledge about the Colorado River Basin and the natural world more broadly out of the mainstream’s obscurity to reposition these perspectives at the foreground of the region’s water cultures. To initiate what is in essence a decolonization of Colorado River Basin water knowledge, I examine texts representing various tribal affiliations and genres to consider how their particular use of story engages the historic and ongoing environmental injustices they have faced and continue to negotiate in their fight to preserve their sacred lands, identity, and access to reliable, clean water. Such a decolonization occurs through these texts’ use of narrative to work within and against the scientific and instrumental discourses and their respective genres that have traditionally constructed and dictated mainstream Colorado River knowledge and activity. My treatment of narrative within the Ten Tribes Partnership Tribal Water Study (2018) and the Grand Canyon Trust’s “Voices of Grand Canyon” digital project (2020) sheds greater light on the essential relationships the Basin’s nations and tribes have with the Colorado River. Through these counternarratives to the West’s dominant water ideologies and cultures, the Basin’s tribal nations draw attention to past and ongoing struggles to secure equitable water access while amplifying their resilience and determination that defines their calls for environmental justice.


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University of South Dakota, USA

Adrian Taylor Kane
Central American Rivers as Sites of Colonial Contestation
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.10043
177 – 199
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Rivers | Central America | Arturo Arias | Claribel Alegría | Mario Bencastro | Óscar Torres | Voces Incoentes | Sumpul River

Streszczenie

In the introduction to Troubled Waters: Rivers in Latin American Imagination (2013), Elizabeth Pettinaroli and Ana María Mutis have argued that rivers in Latin American literature constitute a “locus for the literary exploration of questions of power, identity, resistance, and discontent.” Many works of testimonial literature and literature of resistance written during and about the Central American civil wars of the 1970s and 1980s as a means of denouncing and resisting various forms of oppression would support their thesis. In the 2004 film Innocent Voices, directed by Luis Mandoki, Mario Bencastro’s 1997 story “Había una vez un río,” and Claribel Alegría’s 1983 poem “La mujer del Río Sumpul,” the traumatic events in the protagonists’ lives that occur in and near rivers create an inversion of the conventional use of rivers as symbols of life, purity, innocence, and re-creation by associating them with violence, death, and destruction. At the same time, the river often becomes a metaphor for the wounds of trauma, which allude to the psychological suffering not only of the protagonists, but to the collective pain of their countries torn asunder by war. Arturo Arias’s 2015 novel El precio del consuelo also features a river as the site of state-sponsored violence against rural citizens during the civil war period. In contrast with Bencastro’s and Alegria’s texts, however, Arias’s novel highlights issues of environmental justice related to the use of rivers in Central America that continue to plague the region to date. In the present essay, I argue that these works are compelling representations of the ways in which rivers have become sites of contestation between colonial and decolonial forces in Central America.


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Boise State University, USA

Eunice Nodari,
Marcos Gerhardt
The Uruguay River: A Permeable Border in South America. A permeable border in South America
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.10047
201 – 227
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Biodiversity | forests | Uruguay River | parks | landscapes | South America

Streszczenie

The Uruguay River basin in South America has held a social, cultural, environmental, and economic relevance for many centuries. The river flows for about 2,000 km, linked to an important remnant of native forest, the Selva Misionera in Argentina, and to a Brazilian conservation unit for biodiversity, the Turvo State Park. The Uruguay River is fed by several other important rivers, forming a basin region in which thousands of people live and work. The history of the Uruguay River is intensively linked to the permeable borders between Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay where different social groups circulated in diverse historical time periods. Forests along the river played a very important role with emphasis on the extraction and trade of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis, Saint-Hilaire), a forest product widely consumed in southern America, and also the timber extraction from native forests, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As a result, a profound socio-environmental transformation took place with the reconstruction of regional landscapes shaped by the Uruguay River basin.


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Eunice Nodari
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazylia

Marcos Gerhardt
Universidade de Passo Fundo (UPF), Brazylia

Lawrence Buell,
Christof Mauch
Imagining Rivers: The Aesthetics, History, and Politics of American Waterways. A Conversation Between Lawrence Buell and Christof Mauch
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.10414
229 – 237
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American Rivers

Streszczenie

This contribution features a transatlantic conversation between Christof Mauch, environmental historian and Americanist from Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, and Lawrence Buell, literary scholar and “pioneer” of Ecocriticism from Harvard University. Buell’s The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture (1995) marked the first major attempt to understand the green tradition of environmental writing, nonfiction as well as fiction, beginning in colonial times and continuing into the present day. With Thoreau’s Walden as a touchstone, this seminal book provided an account of the place of nature in the history of Western thought. Other highly acclaimed monographs include Writing for an Endangered World (2001), a book that brought industrialized and exurban landscapes into conversation with one other, and The Future of Environmental Criticism: Environmental Crisis and Literary Imagination (2009), which provides a critical survey of the ecocritical movement since the 1970s, with an eye to the future of the discipline.


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Lawrence Buell
Harvard University, USA

Christof Mauch
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Niemcy

Weronika Kurasz
"Doing God’s Will: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Life of Purpose" by Larry L. Macon Sr. (A Book Review)
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.12464
239 – 249
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theology | Martin Luther King | Black Church | Baptist Church | activism | social change | African Traditional Religions


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Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach
Piotr Gumuła
"The Discourse of Propaganda: Case Studies from the Persian Gulf War and the War on Terror" by John Oddo (A Book Review)
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.12465
251 – 256
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Słowa kluczowe

propaganda | manipulation | The Gulf War | The War on Terror | case studies | proximization


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Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach

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International American
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