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Forthcoming Book


imagining extinction: the cultural meanings of endangered species

University of Chicago Press: forthcoming August 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:

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

The Hug of the Polar Bear

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Keynote: “Species Fictions.” ACLA Annual Convention, Harvard University, 17 March 2016, 6:00-7:30pm, Harvard Northwest B 103.

Keynote: “Dick’s New Natures.” Philip K. Dick Conference, CSU Fullerton. 30 April 2016, 3:00-5:00pm, TSU Theater.

Global Thought in the Anthropocene – A Panel Discussion with Ursula Heise. With Bill Brown (English), Fredrik Albritton Jonsson (History),and Benjamin Morgan (English). The University of Chicago Center for International Studies. CIS 50th Anniversary speaker series: “Thinking Globally: International Studies and the Global Turn in the Social Sciences.” Wednesday, 4 May 2016, 5:30pm, Social Sciences Building Room 122.

Lecture: The Silent Music of Extinction. Environmental Humanities Research Workshop, Kaplan Institute for the Humanities. Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Thursday, 5 May 2016, 5:00pm.

Lecture. Futures of the Study of Culture. International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC) Anniversary Symposium, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Gießen, Germany. Alte Giesserei, Heyligenstaedt, Aulweg 41, 35392 Gießen: 7-8 July 2016.