(Re)Writing Canadian Space: Dystopian Geographies in Larissa Lai’s Salt Fish Girl and M.G. Vassanji’s Nostalgia
thesisposted on 22.05.2021, 15:07 by Hannah Warkentin
This paper examines how dystopian fiction opens up a productive space for disrupting naturalized assumptions, and shifting our understanding of taken-for-granted spaces. Drawing on Doreen Massey’s (2005) proposal that space must be seen as the product of constant interrelations, I argue that dystopian literature can similarly prompt us to reconsider our relationship to the spaces we inhabit. Using the concept of the “critical dystopia,” I examine how dystopian frameworks are operationalized in the Canadian context through a comparative analysis of two novels that speculate distinctly Canadian dystopian futures: Larissa Lai’s Salt Fish Girl (2002) and M.G. Vassanji’s Nostalgia (2016). By applying Massey’s theorization of space—its multiplicities, complexities, and political potentialities—to an examination of how Canadian spaces are transformed in the dystopian context, I then analyze how those representations challenge the spatial ideologies associated with globalization, and resist the neoliberal view of space as a surface to be crossed and conquered (Massey, 2005).