Animals and the unspoken: intertwined lives in Martha Sandwall-Bergström's Kulla-Gulla series
Barnboken: Tidskrift för Barnlitteraturforskning
This article discusses aspects of the human-animal relationships in Martha Sandwall-Bergström's Kulla-Gulla series, using a theoretical framework consisting of ecofeminism and literary animal studies. Ecofeminist scholars demonstrate how the problematic of gender and nature are linked, and this article focuses on how Gulla's relationship with some significant animals enables her to envision a social ideal that undermines the patriarchal power structures that are dominant in her society. The
... er society. The worldview that emerges resists anthropocentric normativity by suggesting a more inclusive, biocentric utopia where the boundaries between nature, humans and non-human animals become fluid. Reading the Kulla-Gulla books from a perspective that is attentive to the presence of animals reveals the extent of the interconnectedness of the human and non-human spheres of life. The narrative attributes agency to a number of animals, which allows them to become a vital part of the social fabric of the novels. Without being reduced to metaphorical devices, they speak up and their voices are heard by some of the human characters. Their status as agents allows them to mediate social changes in a society that is not presented as exclusively human. In the literary universe of Kulla-Gulla, where social hierarchies and gender patterns appear to be firmly established, some characters, both animal and human, are able to destabilize and subvert these patterns with their border-crossing qualities. Their voices and actions express what the human characters are not able to, and by doing so, they undermine strict humanist dualisms.