Tim Winton’s Pneumatic Materialism

Arthur Rose

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The somatic effects of empire emerge for both the Global South and its supposed beneficiaries in the Global North. Such effects are to be found in Tim Winton’s “pneumatic materialism,” an aesthetic preoccupation in his novels with moments of anoxia, or the deprivation of oxygen to the brain. This essay will disrupt clear distinctions between South and North by considering how Winton’s novels engage with pneumatic materialism to intervene in questions of uneven development traditionally associated with the Global South. By blurring his concerns across the North-South divide, Winton shows a willingness to think of empire as a series of relations that are not bound by national or territorial borders, so much as by substances in the air. He does this, I argue, in his use of the breath.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-656
Number of pages16
JournalInterventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies
Issue number5
Early online date12 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2020


  • Breath
  • Cloudstreet
  • Dirt Music
  • Global South
  • pneuma
  • Winton, Tim


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