Emergent Ecologies

Emergent Ecologies

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: 72 illustrations Published: November 2015

Author: Eben Kirksey

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Science and Technology Studies

In an era of global warming, natural disasters, endangered species, and devastating pollution, contemporary writing on the environment largely focuses on doomsday scenarios. Eben Kirksey suggests we reject such apocalyptic thinking and instead find possibilities in the wreckage of ongoing disasters, as symbiotic associations of opportunistic plants, animals, and microbes are flourishing in unexpected places. Emergent Ecologies uses artwork and contemporary philosophy to illustrate hopeful opportunities and reframe key problems in conservation biology such as invasive species, extinction, environmental management, and reforestation. Following the flight of capital and nomadic forms of life—through fragmented landscapes of Panama, Costa Rica, and the United States—Kirksey explores how chance encounters, historical accidents, and parasitic invasions have shaped present and future multispecies communities. New generations of thinkers and tinkerers are learning how to care for emergent ecological assemblages—involving frogs, fungal pathogens, ants, monkeys, people, and plants—by seeding them, nurturing them, protecting them, and ultimately letting go.


"Amid widespread environmental destruction, with radical changes taking place in ecosystems throughout the Americas, where can we find hope? Emergent Ecologies takes readers on an adventure through the Americas stopping over in ecosystems, laboratories, art exhibits, forests, and more in Panama, New York, Maine, Florida, Costa Rica to tell a story about the practices of worldmaking by ants, frogs, fungi, and other ontological amphibians. This is an exuberant and sensitively-written multispecies ethnography that is also a pleasure to read." — Carla Nappi, New Books in Science, Technology and Society

"With an activist’s ardor, Kirksey urges us to acknowledge that ecology’s current emphasis on preservation is futile. Our desire to conserve ecosystems, he insists, will be constantly thwarted. Instead, he argues for an active and pragmatic project of future making. For Kirksey, the project is urgent. It must begin now." — Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Public Books

"More than ever before, fear drives the modern world. This book makes for a modern, sometimes terrifying, and a somewhat deep read. It is recommended for those interested in the 'new world' and its history. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above; faculty and professionals." — F. Huettmann, Choice

"Innovative, thoroughly researched, and well written – a labour of love. It is best at its most specific, when Kirksey’s infectious curiosity and freewheeling fieldwork reveal surprising connections across biological theory, political economy, and cultural history." — Ashley Carse, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"A work of great sophistication, Emergent Ecologies is a great read. It is movingly written, methodologically innovative, and provides an intellectually rich account of an important and timely subject that will inspire, entertain, and challenge."  — Sarah Franklin, author of Biological Relatives: IVF, Stem Cells, and the Future of Kinship

"A praise song for the possibilities of bricolage, Emergent Ecologies is a postmodern natural history in which displaced ants, macaques, frogs, and flies tumble with philosophy, performance art, science, and adventure story.  Eben Kirksey takes us on a wild ride through a funhouse of risky and ironic entanglements."  — Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, author of The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins


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Price: $27.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Eben Kirksey is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Deakin University in Australia. He is the editor of The Multispecies Salon and the author of Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power, both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction  1

1. Parallax  8

2. Ontological Amphibians  17

3. Hope in the Reverted Zone  36

4. Happiness and Glass  52

5. Bubbles  72

6. Xenoecologies  86

7. Becoming Wild  105

8. Multispecies Families  134

9. Parasites of Capitalism  163

10. Possible Futures  190

Conclusion  217

Acknowledgments  221

Notes  227

Bibliography  269

Index  291
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6035-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6017-9
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