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Friday, 20 August 2010

The Global Species published

Yesterday I received my copy of new formations no. 69, where my article "The Global Species" appears (pp98-110). Guest editor of the Special Issue 'Imperial Ecologies', Ashley Dawson, summarizes my article in his "Introduction: New Enclosures" (freely available online). Excerpts (p20):

Morten Tønnessen’s essay focuses on a substance even more ubiquitous than oil, one that has perhaps also been more essential to the reproduction of our species: non-human animals. Approaching analysis of human-affiliated life forms from the perspective of the long durée and developing the concept of ecosemiotics, Tønnessen argues that the historical process of globalisation can perhaps be best understood through analysis of the planet’s colonisation not simply by human beings but also by the accompanying proliferation of species we favour. Alongside this process of planetary diffusion, human beings have introduced a schism in nature, Tønnessen suggests, one that divides biological life into favoured and non-favoured species. Life and death have been apportioned around the planet for centuries according to this anthropocentric matrix of biological utility. The result is a global colonial organism or ecological empire, with human beings at the apex of a massive pyramid of fauna and flora that we privilege because of their utility to our species’ expanded reproduction. While acknowledging the primary role played by Europe and the United States in diffusing a particularly unsustainable model of development around the world over the last five hundred years, Tønnessen explores the provocative question of whether there may be something ecologically imperialistic in our behaviour as a species over a much longer time span than that of Euro-American-dominated modernity. Drawing unnerving conclusions from this historical retrospect, Tønnessen argues that the serried ecological crises we currently confront are linked inextricably to the forms of biopower we exercise not simply over human populations but over the mammoth global pyramid of flesh and grain upon which we depend.

Other contributors: Crystal Bartolovich, George Caffentzis, Ashley Dawson, Ben Dibbley, Jeremy Gilbert, Peter Hitchcock, Leerom Medovoi, Brett Neilsen, Rob Nixon, Sian Sullivan, Nicholas Thoburn, Tony Venezia.
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