Animate Planet

Making Visceral Sense of Living in a High-Tech Ecologically Damaged World

Animate Planet

ANIMA: Critical Race Studies Otherwise

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Book Pages: 264 Illustrations: 24 illustrations Published: January 2017

Author: Kath Weston

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Gender and Sexuality

In Animate Planet Kath Weston shows how new intimacies between humans, animals, and their surroundings are emerging as people attempt to understand how the high-tech ecologically damaged world they have made is remaking them, one synthetic chemical, radioactive isotope, and megastorm at a time. Visceral sensations, she finds, are vital to this process, which yields a new animism in which humans and "the environment" become thoroughly entangled. In case studies on food, water, energy, and climate from the United States, India, and Japan, Weston approaches the new animism as both a symptom of our times and an analytic with the potential to open paths to new and forgotten ways of living.


"The complexity of these readings promotes compassion but also a richer understanding of how humanity inhabits our world.  We cannot predict the new directions in which our affects may take us.  Through such precarity, and the intimacies, animacies, and enchantments accompanying it, Weston reframes the debates on which the health of our animate planet depends." — Patricia Wald, Critical Inquiry

"This sophisticated political ecology reveals how the reciprocal impacts between humans and the environment through industrial technology have become intimate and animate in unprecedented ways. The insightful analysis of cases from India, Japan, and the US are thought-provoking perspectives on the environmental resource categories of climate, energy, food, and water. Recommended."  — L.E. Sponsel, Choice

"The question that pervades the book – how can humanity deal with the paradox of being the cause of its own destruction and yet not know how to stop doing so? – is fundamentally important to the way we live in the world today, and one we struggle to look at. For this reason alone, Animate Planet is important, and to some degree a must-read." — Stephanie Bunn, Times Higher Education

"The merit of Weston’s argumentative thrust lies in consistently highlighting the affective attachments people develop towards the things that harm them.... Positioning questions of affect and desire in this way at the heart of life in a technologically damaged world, Weston opens up a field of inquiry that is as conceptually exciting as it is politically urgent." — Marlene Schäfers, Cambridge Journal of Anthropology

“[Animate Planet] nudge[s] the field of political ecology toward a greater exploration of the embodied and affective ties that bind humans and other living entities with the technologies of late capitalism.” — Teresa Lloro-Bidart, American Ethnologist

"Animate Planet is a quite valuable contribution to the growing corpus of work in environmental anthropology and STS studies, providing a highly useful lens through which to understand how human beings make sense of technologically mediated environmental degradation across cultural and geographic contexts in the 21st century." — Amy Field, Social Anthropology

“Contributing to fields such as science and technology studies, philosophy, political economy, anthropology, environmental studies, and ecology, Animate Planet is a fascinating read and well suited for a graduate seminar in any of these fields. . . .” — Garrett Bunyak, Quarterly Review of Biology

"Animate Planet succeeds in making an argument for bridging categories to think about the consequences of modernity and the intimacies it produces. Animate Planet could be used in advanced undergraduate courses and graduate seminars."

— Nicolas Sternsdorff-Cisterna, Anthropological Quarterly

"Animate Planet luminously draws out how our bodies, ourselves, our foods, our waters, our chemicals, our devices, our radioisotopes, our climate, and our planet are all animated, for good and ill, by their ecological intimacies with one another. Kath Weston brilliantly shows us that such animacies are signs of today’s globally uneven spacetime and require a reinvigorated, and fully political, animism—an exciting analytic that this book dazzlingly realizes." — Stefan Helmreich, author of Sounding the Limits of Life: Essays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond

"Once again Kath Weston masterfully upturns the lexicon of everyday life, this time by illuminating intimacy not only as a psychic or spatial relation, but as ecologically lived. This is a humbling and beautiful book that tells stories of inescapably cohabited destruction in witty, clever, but no less tragic terms." — Jasbir K. Puar, author of Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Kath Weston is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia. A Guggenheim Fellow and two-time winner of the Ruth Benedict Prize, Weston is the author of several books, including Traveling Light: On the Road with America's PoorGender in Real Time: Power and Transience in a Visual Age; and Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments. Generosity and Nothing But  viii

Introduction. Animating Intimacies, Reanimating a World  1

1. Biosecurity and Surveillance in the Food Chain  37

2. The Unwanted Intimacy of Radiation Exposure in Japan  71

Climate Change
3. Climate Change, Slippery on the Skin  105

4. The Greatest Show on Parched Earth  135

Knowing What We KNow, Why Are We Stuck?
5. Political Ecologies of the Precarious  177

Notes  199

References  217

Index  243
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6232-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6210-4
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