What Is Eco-Criticism? Use Helon Habila's novel Oil On Water as a textual example.

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Ecocriticism, also referred to as “green” criticism and environmental criticism, is a common field of literature and literary analysis that focuses on the relationship between humans and the environment.

In Helon Habila’s Oil on Water, we see two journalists, elderly Zaq and youthful Rufus, embark on a journey through the Niger Delta in search of a kidnapped woman. With the guidance of a youngster and an elderly man, the two journalists struggle to paddle their canoe up the river as they witness the nightmarish scenes of destruction caused by the oil industry. At first, Rufus claims, the villagers are happy about the payouts from the oil company. However, as time passes by, the devastating effects of the oil business start to become more apparent; plants, livestock, birds, fish, and humans all begin to die. The survivors, left with nothing constructive to do, become kidnappers or join militant organizations.

Thus, having looked at these details, we can conclude that Habila’s novel is a work of ecocriticism, since it explores the environmental implications of the oil business.

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Ecocriticism is the study of the interaction between the environment and literature (see the source from Purdue below). This field also studies the interconnections between culture and the environment. Habila's novel Oil on Water is about the ruin of the Niger delta, which was caused by petroleum companies. The plot is about two journalists, Rufus and Zaq, who search for the abducted wife of a European oil company administrator. In their travels, they witness the destruction of the land around them and the way in which the destruction of the environment has also caused the destruction of the culture. Rufus's own family has been harmed by the oil business, as Rufus's sister, Boma, was disfigured when oil drums exploded and his father was imprisoned for having caused the accident by smoking. Habila's novel is in the field of ecocriticism, as it's a literary study of the effect of environmental degradation on the people and culture of an area.

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Ecocriticism is a field of inquiry that first developed in the 1970s. It refers to the study of literature, and the arts generally, from an environmental perspective.

There are two waves of Ecocriticism. The first wave mainly concerned itself with local conservation. The second wave concerns itself with globalization, and looks at how environmental concerns impact poor communities and communities of color (e.g., environmental racism).

Helon Habila's "Oil on Water" is part of the second wave of Ecocriticism. It looks at the ways in which the environmental destruction of the Niger Delta, due to greed for petrodollars, has warped human relationships. 

Two men, Rufus and Zaq, journey upriver, observing the destruction that oil companies reap on the ecosystem along the delta: "dead birds draped over tree branches, their outstretched wings black and slick with oil; dead fishes bobbed white-bellied between tree roots". 

Initially, villagers are excited to receive a contract with the oil companies (the novel probably mirrors Nigeria's relationship with Royal Dutch Shell), but the result of such an alliance is not prosperity; instead it results in the loss of their homes. Once water becomes contaminated, fields become non-arable, causing villages to be abandoned. Survivors of this environmental crisis are given jobs at the oil company -- a means of keeping them quiet and ensuring loyalty -- while others turn to crime for profit.

Ecocriticism, particularly the second wave, looks at the connections that human beings have to their environment and how those connections, even at seemingly minor levels, are necessary in maintaining a sustainable environment. Habila's novel is a work with an Ecocritical context because it examines these connections, and shows what happens when ecosystems no longer function.

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