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Karlijn Herforth | Justice for Trees: Representations of the Law in Richard Powers’ The Overstory

Abstract

This article examines the representation of ecological justice and the legal responsibilities for nonhuman species in the novel The Overstory (2018) by Richard Powers. Focusing on the preservation of the forest, I argue that the novel illustrates how the capitalist and anthropocentric foundations of the legal system hinder any human attempts, whether it is through breaking or fixing the law, to achieve ecological justice for trees. Without reducing the need for immediate environmental interventions, The Overstory portrays the complex ambiguity of acting on the behalf of nature in the Anthropocene.

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