CfP POLLEN20 – The Enemy of Kinship & Kinship with the Enemies: Beyond Invasive Species and Ecosystem Services Parasites

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers

Please send your abstracts by the 21st of November to Karin Ahlberg, Stockholm University (karin.ahlberg@socant.su.se) and Panos Kompatsiaris, Higher School of Economics, Moscow (pkompatsiaris@hse.ru).

Session description

In his book the ‘Metamorphoses of Kinship’ (2011), the anthropologist Maurice Godelier speaks about the transformations and shifts in the kinship structures of modern Western societies. Departing from an understanding of kinship based on blood and reproduction, Godelier argues, modern societies gradually move to more open and extensive kinship networks beyond the confines of the biological contract. For Godelier then, this fluidity/ expansion of kinship relations is expressed in the rise of divorces, same sex partnerships, surrogate pregnancies and generally relations in which the levels of proximities are not necessarily dictated by ‘blood’. The socialization of animals and their increasing placement within human proximities can be seen as part of the same process of expanding kinship structures.

With this session we would like to explore and interrogate this opening of kinship networks as it leaks out beyond the human to include animals, microbes and plants, as companions and pets, or simply as entangled codependents of human life and earthly cohabitants. In many ways, the moral mandate for this opening has recently been proposed by several theorists as a question of justice. For instance, from her Species Companion Manifesto in 2003 to her recent Staying with Trouble, Donna Haraway puts forward the idea of ‘making kin’ with non-human others as an ethical imperative based on what Cary Wolfe calls an ‘ethics of compassion’ (2010: 41). Furthermore, Wolfe’s own call for ‘trans-species affinities’ (2010), Timothy  Morton’s call for ‘solidarity’ (2017) or Rosi Braidotti’s call for ‘cross species affection’ (2013) are some of the instances when this ethical mandate for compassion translates to a certain dispensing with the human while kinship networks expand. Yet, other forms of living with the others and through extended codependent networks of life—beyond categories of human exceptionalism, culture over nature, domesticated and wild, free and exploited—have long been practices by indigenous populations as well as other species (MacCormack and Strathern 1980, Ingold 1986, cf. Decola 2013), practices and scholarship that constitute the backbone of these latest trends.

Together, this line of work has also unveiled the anthropocentric tendency that underpins analyses of ecosystems in terms of the ‘services’ they provide, or the labor that plants and animals perform for human benefits, profits or landscape engineering (Orion 2015). The problematic inherent in kinship hierarchies and landscape engineering is most visible in the frameworks that render native species (or close kin) as ‘good’ compare to alien and, in particular, invasive species that are  labelled and treated as threatening outsides (Ticktin 2017). Worldwide, organizations and policies engage in pesticide, herbicide and other forms of more, and less, benign warfare against especially foreign supposedly harmful species, often with the pretext to save other species (Kompatsiaris 2018). Under the ‘gendered pretext’ (Hage 2003) to restore and care for damaged ecosystems, a range of killing techniques (-cides) are used – chemical methods, burning or catching and killing – with the result that not only the unwanted other but other species are put at risk (Orion 2015).

This panel sets to explore kinship with the so called ‘enemy’ or ‘subaltern non-human other,’ that critically engage with practices of entangled life beyond the perhaps biggest enemy of the kinship concept – that of false proximity and nativeness.

  • We seek papers that examine how the ethical imperative for kinship and compassion with non-human otherness works via the figure of the parasite, the unwanted species and the invader. The figure of the parasite poses a dialectical intrusion to the affirmative theories of animal love by reinserting antagonism and at the same time opens up the possibility of new forms of coexistence and theorizing life on earth.
  • We seek contributions outside the paradigm of bloodline species-bound kinship and that of ‘invasion ecology’. We are interested in research that reveals insights into ‘unintended’ co-living, eco-symbiosis, syn-poesis or simply love beyond the confines of blood and species kin, that investigates the entangled becoming of mobile and less mobile species and matters in a changing world, or that illustrates how new combinations and lives appear – with, against and beyond human-made categories of us and them, native and foreign.
  • We also welcome contributions that critically engage with interventions in ecosystems in the name of biodiversity or salvage stewardship. In addition, scholarship on exploitation of non-humans species as laborers, for human wellbeing, profit and vision of ideal landscapes are also appreciated.

In sum, we seek research that allows us to see the already practiced entangled becoming beyond kinship as nativeness and blood.

References

Braidotti, R. (2013) The Post-Human. Cambridge: Polity Press

Descola, P (2013) Beyond nature and culture. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press

Hage, G. (2003). Against paranoid nationalism: Searching for hope in a shrinking society. Annandale, NSW.: Pluto Press.

Haraway, D. (2003) Species Companion Manifesto: Dogs, People and Significant Otherness. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Haraway,  D. (2016) Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press

Godelier, M. (2011) The Metamorphoses of Kinship. London: Verso

Ingold, T. (1986). The appropriation of nature: Essays on human ecology and social relations. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Kompatsiaris, P. (2018) “Aliens in the Mediterranean Sea: Monstrous Fish and the (Im)Possibilities of Kinship with Non-Human Others” The Enemy, 1.

MacCormack, C. P., & Strathern, M. (1980). Nature, culture, and gender. Cambridge [Eng.]; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Morton, T. (2017) Humankind: Solidarity with Non-Human People. London: Verso

Orion, T. (2015) Beyond the war on invasive species: A permaculture approach to ecosystem restoration. Chelsea Green Publishing.

Ticktin, M. (2017). “Invasive others: Toward a contaminated world.” Social Research: An International Quarterly, 84(1), xxi-xxxiv.

Wolfe, C. (2010) What is Posthumanism? Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

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