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imagining extinction: the cultural meanings of endangered species

University of Chicago Press: 2016.

We are currently facing what some biologists call the sixth mass extinction of species in the history of life on Earth – the first one caused by humans.  Imagining Extinction focuses on the stories, images, lists and laws that have expressed collective concern over endangered species in different communities around the world over the last half-century. The analysis of  elegy, tragedy, catalog, epic and, occasionally, comedy as genres that shape biodiversity debates  shows in what ways species conservation is at its core a cultural rather than a scientific concern: a way of remembering the past and protesting the present. Through its conflicts and confluences with animal welfare advocacy, environmental justice, and discussions about the Anthropocene and eco-cosmopolitanism, biodiversity conservation can usefully be rethought as multispecies justice, an ambitious attempt to respond to the claim of other humans as well as other species on our moral consideration in a context of social, cultural and political diversity.

Table of Contents:

Introduction:
From the End of Nature to the Beginning of the Anthropocene

Chapter 1:
Lost Dogs, Last Birds, and Listed Species:
Elegy and Comedy in Conservation Stories

Chapter 2:
From Arks to ARKive.org:
Database, Epic, and Biodiversity

Chapter 3
The Legal Lives of Endangered Species:
Biodiversity Laws and Culture

Chapter 4
Factory Farming and Mass Extinction:
Animals and the Dangers of Domestication

Chapter 5
Biodiversity, Environmental Justice, and Multispecies Communities

Chapter 6
Multispecies Fictions for the Anthropocene

Coda
The Hug of the Polar Bear

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UPCOMING LECTURES & PRESENTATIONS

Colloquium: “Storytelling and Multispecies Justice.” Humanities Center, University of Pittsburgh. 13 September 2016, 12:30-2:00pm, 602 Cathedral of Learning.

Lecture: “Species and Narrative in the Anthropocene.” Humanities Center, University of Pittsburgh. 12 September 2016, 5:00-7:00pm, 602 Cathedral of Learning.

Keynote: “Multispecies Narratives in an Age of Biodiversity Change.” Workshop: Narratives of the Global Ecosystem. University of Regensburg, Germany: Altes Finanzamt, Landshuter Straße 4. 17 September 2016, 11am-1pm.

Colloquium: “Imagining Extinction.” Environmental Sciences & Humanities Research Cluster, Center for Science & Society, Columbia University. 20 September 2016, 12:00-2:00pm, 513 Fayerweather Hall.

Discussion: Environmental Humanities and Human Futures.” With Rob Nixon, moderated by Una Chaudhuri. NYU Center for the Humanities. 23 September 2016, 6:00-7:30-pm, 20 Cooper Square.

Conversations in Place 2016: “Science and the Humanities: A Meeting of Minds.” . With Lori Bettison-Varga, Michael H. Dickinsen, William Deverell, Hannah Landecker, and D. J. Waldie. Rancho Los Alamitos. 16 October 2016, 1:30-3:30-pm.

Launch of LENS: Lab for Environmental Narrative Strategies. Earth Now | Earth 2050 Symposium, Institute of the Environment & Sustainability, UCLA. Luskin Conference Center, UCLA. 20 October 2016. 2:00-5:15pm.

Launch Party for LENS: Lab for Environmental Narrative Strategies. Inner Courtyard, Fowler Museum, UCLA. 20 October 2016. 7:30-10:00pm.