You Think The Earth Is A Dead Thing
A quarter of the land of Martinique is severely polluted following decades of unregulated use of chlordecone, a highly toxic insecticide used to treat banana plantations, the source of the island’s chief agricultural export industry.
You Think That the Earth Is a Dead Thing looks at the “global ecological crisis” from the perspective of the island of Martinique. In reflecting on ecology, the film not only raises issues concerning nature and damaged ecosystems, but, moreover, focuses on spaces of resistance to the crisis in which women and men acknowledge and act from the historical perspective of colonialism, where ecological struggle and the colonial past are intrinsically linked. It thus examines the ecological and political context in Martinique through encounters with farmers, an ethnopharmacologist, and a local medical herbalist. The context is one of widespread pollution resulting from the intensive use of chlordecone. For over twenty years, the carcinogenic insecticide was used by a small group of descendants of the first colonial slaveholders to settle in the French West Indies, in order to protect the banana plantations that dominate Martinique’s export industry. The resulting pollution has endangered the life of the island’s population and reflects what Martinican political scientist Malcom Ferdinand names in his book Une écologie décoloniale a colonial existence [un habiter colonial]: “More than a constraint imposed by market forces, ecological domination designates nothing less than the imposition of a toxic life.”
The various protagonists of the film explore alternative approaches in the fight against environmental destruction using ancestral practices and knowledge. Thus, the portrayal of nature constantly shifts: sometimes it appears domesticated and exploited on a massive scale, at other times, contaminated by unseen toxic substances, or, again, as an ally in the struggle for survival.