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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.

Reviews & Discussion:

Clint Wilson III: “Saving Species, Saving the Humanities: Ursula K. Heise’s Imagining Extinction
Faini Cetti: EcoHumanities Website
Chris Carlsson: “Nature is trying to kill me!”


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English Institute Lecture: “Narrative and Scale in the Anthropocene.” School of Humanities, Humanities Gateway 1030, University of California at Irvine. Saturday, 7 October 2017, 1:pm.

Seminar: “The Legal Lives of Endangered Species.” Arne Næss Chair 10th Anniversary Seminar. Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM), University of Oslo, Norway. Thursday, 19 October, 10:15-11:00.

Workshop: “Environmentalism and Science Fiction.” Key House, Seedbox Laboratory, Linköping University, Sweden. Monday, 23 October, 12:00-15:00.

Lecture: “Planet of Cities: Urban Environments and Narrative Futures.” Key House, Seedbox Laboratory, Linköping University, Sweden. Tuesday, 24 October, 13:15-15:15.

Public Lecture: “Where the Wild Things Used to Be: Narrative, Biodiversity, and Multispecies Justice.” University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Humanisten, Renströmsgatan 6 Torgny Segerstedtssalen, Vasaparken. Thursday, 26 October 2017, 13:00-15:00.

Workshop: “Multispecies Theory and Multispecies Justice.” University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Friday, 27 October 2017, 9:00-12:00.

Public Lecture: “Biodiversity, Narrative, and the Imagination of the Future.” Imagining the Anthropocene Future: Extinction, Hope and Technology. Human Futures Programme, Aarhus University, Denmark. Moguls Zielerstuen, Nordre Ringgade 3, 8000 Aarhus C. Monday, 30 October 2017, 10:00-12:00.

HARI Launch Lecture: “Where the Wild Things Used to Be: Narrative, Biodiversity, and Multispecies Justice.” Royal Holloway University of London, HARI: Humanities and Arts Research Institute. Dana Centre, Science Museum, London SW7 2DD. Thursday, 2 November 2017, 17:00.

Presentation: “BioCities: Ecocriticism and the Challenge of the Urban.” Conference on Ecocriticism: Local Voices, Global Voices. Institute of Literature, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Hanoi. Thursday, 14 December 2017.