Corinne FowlerFeb 9, 2022
Green Unpleasant Land
Creative Responses to Rural England's Colonial Connections
Peepal Tree Press 2021
In Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England's Colonial Connections (PeePal Tree Press, 2021), Dr. Corinne Fowler explores the repressed history of rural England's links to transatlantic enslavement and the East India Company.
“Historical and literary ideas about the countryside have shifted significantly in the last three decades. For a long time now, historians, social geographers and archaeologists have recognised that English rural landscapes are readable, showing up such things as Bronze Age forts and Roman roads. The countryside was not, until recently, considered to reveal much about the British empire. Nor was the empire seen as having much to do with enclosure, rural poverty or rural industry. All that has changed.”
Combining essays, poems and stories, the book details the colonial links of country houses, moorlands, woodlands, village pubs and graveyards. Dr. Fowler, who herself comes from a family of slave-owners, argues that Britain's cultural and economic legacy is not simply expressed by chinoiserie, statues, monuments, galleries, warehouses and stately homes. This is a shared history: Britons' ancestors either profited from empire or were impoverished by it. The legacy of empire is expressed by potent language, literary culture and lasting ideas, not least about the countryside. “The book sets out to explore the connections between historical studies and imaginative literary attempts to rethink English rurality. It demonstrates how Black British and British Asian writers (who are inevitably also readers) have addressed and challenged a sense of rural exclusion within the context of shifting sensibilities about the countryside in writing from the sixteenth-century to the present.”
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.