Forthcoming Publications

Drafts of the below papers have been completed and are awaiting publication. Please get in touch if you’d like to see any of them.

Worlds of Meaning at the Edge of Extinction: Conservation Behaviour and the Environmental Humanities

For a journal.

We are living in the midst of a period of mass extinction. All around us, diverse species of animals and plants are disappearing, often largely unnoticed. But this is also a period in which, on a daily basis, new and fascinating insights into animal life are emerging as we come to appreciate more about their remarkable perceptual, cognitive, social, and emotional lives. This article explores this strange juxtaposition of loss and knowledge-making, and the many challenges and possibilities that it gives rise to. It focuses on the emerging field of Conservation Behaviour in which researchers are seeking to modify or manipulate animal behaviours to achieve conservation outcomes: for example, teaching lizards not to eat toxic prey, or birds to utilise a safer migratory route. The article seeks to bring this approach to conservation into dialogue with work in environmental humanities, including the emerging paradigm of conservation humanities. The article outlines an interdisciplinary environmental humanities approach to conservation behaviour, grounded in work in multispecies studies and philosophical ethology. It then explores four broad thematic areas—agency, identity, ethics, and loss—in which the dialogue between these two fields might prove to be particularly, and mutually, enriching.

A Bird, a Flock, a Song and a Forest

For a journal.

Authored by Thom van Dooren, Zoë Sadokierski, Myles Oakey, Sam Widin, Timo Rissanen, and Ross Crates.

The south-eastern corner of the Australian continent was once criss-crossed by the nomadic flight paths of the Regent Honeyeater. For hundreds of thousands of years, they winged their way up and down this vast continent. Today, however, the species is listed as critically endangered and is just clinging to existence. This multimedia essay tells the story of this decline, exploring the complex, co-shaping, relationships between individual birds and their flocks, their songs, and their forests. While these are relationships that might be glossed as being social, cultural, and ecological (respectively), and so belonging to separate domains of life, they are in reality delicately interwoven elements of what it is to be a Regent Honeyeater; relationships that, taken together, have been integral to the emergence and ongoing life of this species. In attending to the breakdown of these relationships in our present time, this essay seeks to develop new resources for storying loss in a time of ongoing extinctions. Bringing text into conversation with images and audio, the essay works to draw the reader/viewer/listener into an encounter with an unravelling world. Ultimately, our aim has been to create an essay in which the conceptual ideas, the design, and the biology of the species described, are brought into some sort of alignment that allows them to become mutually reinforcing elements of a storied encounter. Our reflection on the process of creating this essay are provided in the accompanying exegetical commentary.

Military Snails: Multispecies Solidarities in Hawai‘i

For Environmental Humanities in Oceania and the Pacific Islands, Rebecca H. Hogue and Craig Santos Perez (eds.), University of Washington Press.

Mākua Valley on the island of O‘ahu is a place in which snail conservation, the US Army, and Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) claims to access land and cultural sites, are all brought into dynamic tension. Over roughly the past 100 years, the Army have used this valley for live-fire and other exercises, excluding people while also blowing up and burning the habitat of critically endangered land snails and other species. Snails and some local people are drawn together here into a powerful multispecies solidarity centered on efforts to conserve the biological and cultural heritage of this place in the context of deep histories and ongoing realities of both colonization and militarization. In telling this story, this chapter aims to draw out how the history of struggles over this valley was shaped by a particular snail species, Achatinella mustelina: by its specific evolution, life history, and ecology. In so doing, it aims to highlight the importance of multispecies solidarities, of the particular possibilities that different, other-than-human, beings open up and foreclose as allies in struggles for more livable worlds.

Ethical conference economies?: Reimagining the costs of convening academic communities when moving online

Authored by Bastian, M., Flatø, E. H., Baraitser, L., Jordheim, H., Salisbury, L., & van Dooren, T. Paper under review.