Plant Life and More-than-human Agency in Zainab Amadahy’s Resistance

Paula Wieczorek


For centuries humans have acted as if the environment was passive and as if the agency was related only to human beings. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers, scholars, and artists express the need to narrate tales about the multitudes of the living earth, which can help perceive the Earth as vibrant and living. The following paper discusses Black/Cherokee Zainab Amadahy’s speculative fiction novel 2013 Resistance as an example of a story resisting the claim about human beings as the ultimate species. The paper initially scrutinizes the phenomena of “plant blindness” and then explores how Zainab Amadahy illustrates plant life in her book. Unlike in traditional literary depictions of botany, the writer presents tobacco as an active and responsive agent that influences the characters, which, consequently, opposes anthropocentrism. The article also addresses the cultural violence and disregard that has dominated the Western perception of animistic cultures and expresses the need to rethink the theory of animism. This paper draws from posthumanist writings by scholars including Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour, Jane Bennett, and Stacy Alaimo. It also refers to some of the most influential contributions to critical plant studies made by Indigenous thinkers such as Robin Wall Kimmerer’ s Braiding Sweetgrass (2013).

Full Text:



Alaimo, Stacy. 2010. Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Amadahy, Zainab. 2013. Resistance. Toronto, Ontario: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Appadurai, Arjun. 1986. The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Aristotle. 1932. Politics. Translated by Harris Rackham. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Barad, Karen. 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.

Bennett, Jane. 2010. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham: Duke University Press.

Bishop, Katherine E., David Higgins, and Jerry Maatta. 2020. Plants in Science Fiction: Speculative Vegetation. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

Chaudhuri, Jean, and Joyotpaul Chaudhuri. 2001. A Sacred Path: The Way of the Muscogee Creeks. Los Angeles: UCLA American Indian Studies Center.

Clark, Timothy. 2010. “Some Climate Change Ironies: Deconstruction, Environmental Politics and the Closure of Ecocriticism.” Oxford Literary Review 32 (1): 131-149.

Cohen, Tom. 2010. “The Geomorphic Fold: Anapocalyptics, Changing Climes and ‘late’ Deconstruction.” Oxford Literary Review 32 (1): 71-89.

Deer, Jemma. 2021. Radical Animism: Reading for the End of the World. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Gagliano, Monica, John Ryan, and Patricia Vieira. 2017. The Language of Plants: Science, Philosophy, Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Hall, Matthew. 2011. Plants as Persons: A Philosophical Botany. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Hallé, Francis. 2002. In Praise of Plants. Portland, OR: Timber Press.

Haraway, Donna. 2016. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press.

Harjo, Joy, and Tanaya Winder. 2011. Soul Talk, Soul Language: Conversations with Joy Harjo. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

Harraway, Donna. 2008. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Harris, Dylan M. 2017. “Telling the Story of Climate Change: Geologic Imagination, Praxis, and Policy.” Energy Research & Social Science 31: 179–83.

Heidegger, Martin. 2001. The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Justice, Daniel Heath. 2018. Why Indigenous Literatures Matter. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Kimmerer, Robin Wall. 2013. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. Minneapolis: Milkweed.

Kovach, Margaret. 2009. Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations and Contexts. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

Latour, Bruno. 2017. Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climate Regime. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Mabey, Richard. 2018. The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination. London: Profile Books, Cop.

Morton, Timothy. 2007. Ecology without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Nealon, Jeffrey T. 2020. Plant Theory: Biopower and Vegetable Life. Plant Theory. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Oppermann, Serpil. 2018. “The Scale of the Anthropocene: Material Ecocritical Reflections.” Mosaic 51 (3): 1–17.

Povinelli, Elizabeth A. 2016. Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism. Durham: Duke University Press.

Robert Hass. 2005. “The Problem of Describing Trees.” The New Yorker. Accessed November 15, 2018.

Rooney, Caroline. 2000. African Literature, Animism and Politics. London: Routledge.

Simpson, Leann Betasamosake. 2017. As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Skemp, J. B. 1947. “Plants in Plato’s Timaeus.” The Classical Quarterly 41 (1–2): 53-60.

Todd, Zoe. 2016. “An Indigenous Feminist’s Take On The Ontological Turn: ‘Ontology’ Is Just Another Word For Colonialism.” Journal of Historical Sociology 29 (1): 4-22.

Tylor, Edward Burnett. 1871. Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and Custom. Vol. I. London: John Murray.

Wallace-Wells, David. 2019. The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future. London: Penguin Books Ltd.

Wandersee, James H., and Elisabeth E. Schussler. 1999. “Preventing Plant Blindness.” The American Biology Teacher 61 (2): 82-86.

Watts, Vanessa. 2013. “Indigenous Place-Thought and Agency amongst Humans and Non-Humans.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 2 (1): 20-34.

Winter, Joseph. 2000. “Introduction to the North American Tobacco Species.” In Tobacco Use by Native North Americans: Sacred Smoke and Silent Killer, edited by Joseph Winter, 3–8. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Data publikacji: 2021-10-10 16:24:46
Data złożenia artykułu: 2021-05-24 06:18:19


Total abstract view - 1191
Downloads (from 2020-06-17) - PDF - 0



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Paula Wieczorek

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.