Placing Lost Intersectional Plots in Houellebecq’s Anéantir (2022): Race, Climate and Scandalous Textual Necropolitics

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Abstract

Placed in the context of scandals surrounding Houellebecq’s novels, Anéantir (2022) is described as strategically losing its political and other plots to focus on the death of its protagonist. This narrative choice cannot, however, dispense with questions raised by representations of race (universalism, colourism, racialization, gender); by colonial and postcolonial exploitation (including the Françafrique); and by ‘green-bashing’, anthropocentrism and the elision of differential impacts of climate change. These questions are considered in terms of necropolitical power over who lives or dies (Mbembe 2003), and precarious lives experienced as ‘slow death’ (Berlant 2007). Fiction is established as always already a form of necropolitics–of textual decisions of life and death. Whilst climate catastrophe is not foregrounded in this predominantly anthropocentric narrative, the ultimate question is whether Houellebecq intends any kind of self-reflexive ‘ecocritique’ (Morton 2009), or whether the gravest global scandal—of human contributions to climate change—is ignored.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrench Cultural Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • Houellebecq
  • Anéantir
  • necropolitics
  • slow death
  • ecocritique
  • La Françafrique
  • racism
  • climate change

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