The Role of Literary Artists in Environmental Movements: Minamata Disease and Michiko Ishimure
By offering new fantasies, perspectives and representations, artists have the power to make people aware of social issues and inspire them to action. This paper describes how artists can offer a vision of environmental resistance by employing fantasy and using tools of poetic expression for communities affected by environmental destruction. This paper employs a case study methodology to examine the Minamata disease victims’ movement in Japan through the lens of environmental justice. As part of this movement, writer Michiko Ishimure created a fantasy called Mouhitotsu-no-konoyo, based in a mythical world and featuring the moral relationships that the people of Minamata, Kumamoto Prefecture, had embraced before modernisation. I will show the importance of this fantasy for the movement, analysing it from two perspectives: those of ningenteki-dori (the human principle) and the invisible fantasy about the mythical world. Ishimure’s fantasy offers a moral message to prevent further environmental harm.
Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.