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Imagining ExtinctionThe Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species$
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Ursula K. Heise

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226358024

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226358338.001.0001

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Biodiversity, Environmental Justice, and Multispecies Communities

Biodiversity, Environmental Justice, and Multispecies Communities

Chapter:
(p.162) 5 Biodiversity, Environmental Justice, and Multispecies Communities
Source:
Imagining Extinction
Author(s):

Ursula K. Heise

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226358338.003.0006

This chapter focuses on the political tensions between biodiversity conservation and environmental justice over the last thirty years, which have centered on the privileging of nonhuman species over the welfare of disenfranchised human communities. Through the analysis of three fictional texts that stage this confrontation, Mayra Montero's Tú, la oscuridad (In the Palm of Darkness), the Stanford Graphic Novel Project's Virunga, and Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide, the chapter develops the notion of "multispecies justice." As a theoretical concept, multispecies justice draws on multispecies ethnography, studies of cosmopolitanism, critical animal studies, and Actor-Network-Theory to propose a model for combining justice for different human communities with justice for other species. It proposes that "the human" as a species category should not be assumed as a biological given, but assembled—in both the technical and the political senses of the word—from cultural differences. These differences will also inflect the parallel assembly of what justice means in particular contexts, especially in relation to the avoidable and unavoidable forms of violence that typically accompany encounters between different human communities and between species.

Keywords:   environmental justice, postcolonialism, postcolonial ecocriticism, multispecies ethnography, cultural anthropology, animal welfare, animal rights, biodiversity conservation, species conservation

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