Wildlife in the Anthropocene

Wildlife in the Anthropocene: Conservation after Nature

JAMIE LORIMER
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt14btgjq
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    Wildlife in the Anthropocene
    Book Description:

    Elephants rarely breed in captivity and are not considered domesticated, yet they interact with people regularly and adapt to various environments. Too social and sagacious to be objects, too strange to be human, too captive to truly be wild, but too wild to be domesticated-where do elephants fall in our understanding of nature?

    InWildlife in the Anthropocene,Jamie Lorimer argues that the idea of nature as a pure and timeless place characterized by the absence of humans has come to an end. But life goes on. Wildlife inhabits everywhere and is on the move; Lorimer proposes the concept of wildlife as a replacement for nature. Offering a thorough appraisal of the Anthropocene-an era in which human actions affect and influence all life and all systems on our planet- Lorimer unpacks its implications for changing definitions of nature and the politics of wildlife conservation.Wildlife in the Anthropoceneexamines rewilding, the impacts of wildlife films, human relationships with charismatic species, and urban wildlife. Analyzing scientific papers, policy documents, and popular media, as well as a decade of fieldwork, Lorimer explores the new interconnections between science, politics, and neoliberal capitalism that the Anthropocene demands of wildlife conservation.

    Imagining conservation in a world where humans are geological actors entangled within and responsible for powerful, unstable, and unpredictable planetary forces, this work nurtures a future environmentalism that is more hopeful and democratic.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4428-9
    Subjects: Geography, Environmental Science, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. INTRODUCTION: After the Anthropocene
    (pp. 1-18)

    Geologists argue that our planet has entered the Anthropocene.¹ A new epoch began once humans became an earth-changing force, capable of leaving their signature in the fossil record.² There is a growing acceptance of this term among scientists, politicians, and other elites, which accompanies a recognition that there are few places, forms, and processes on this planet that do not bear the traces of human activity.³ This is not, however, the triumph of Enlightenment science. Nature has not finally been known, tamed, and rationally ordered. Instead, the unforeseen, deleterious, and unequal consequences of these planetary activities are an established source...

  4. 1 WILDLIFE: Companion Elephants and New Grounds for Multinatural Conservation
    (pp. 19-34)

    There are between three and four thousand Asian elephants living on the densely populated island of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean (Figure 1).¹ They are intelligent, emotional animals who live long lives in complex social groups. Given the choice, they would be wide-ranging, tramping extensive territories along established lines of movement. At present they inhabit a fragmented and dynamic biogeography comprising protected areas, cultivated land, orphanages and transit homes, and various modes of private and religious captivity. There is a long history in South Asia of taking elephants from the wild and training them for work and ceremony.² Recent...

  5. 2 NONHUMAN CHARISMA: Counting Corncrakes and Learning to Be Affected in Multispecies Worlds
    (pp. 35-56)

    It is the summer of 2003, and I am on a small island in the Hebrides—a sparsely populated archipelago off the northwest coast of Scotland. It is a dark and windy night, and I am following Craig,¹ a conservation biologist employed by a large UK NGO. We are trying to count corncrakes (Crex crex), a light-brown bird about the same size as a pigeon (Figure 2), as part of a national census. This has not been easy. By day corncrakes tend to skulk in the long grass and are invisible. Their distinguishing feature (to humans) is the nocturnal call...

  6. 3 BIODIVERSITY AS BIOPOLITICS: Cutting Up Wildlife and Choreographing Conservation in the United Kingdom
    (pp. 57-76)

    The termbiodiversitywas invented by a small group of conservation biologists in the mid-1980s.¹ This buzzword entered popular consciousness at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, where 155 states signed the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Biodiversity promised a new way of understanding and governing the environment; its advocates sought to rationalize existing conservation and galvanize future action. The subsequent increase in the use of the term in scientific and policy circles has been meteoric. Biodiversity energized and has been institutionalized within the scientific discipline of conservation biology—a self-proclaimed “crisis discipline”²—whose adherents...

  7. 4 CONSERVATION AS COMPOSITION: Securing Premodern Ecologies in the Hebrides
    (pp. 77-96)

    The corncrake is often held up as a success story of UK biodiversity conservation. In the 1980s its UK population was in seemingly terminal decline. Once common across the entire country, it had retreated to the Scottish Hebrides, where a few hundred birds spent their summer breeding season. The corncrake was one of the 391 species prioritized for action under the UKBAP. It became subject to a comprehensive national surveillance program and a detailed species action plan. Thanks largely to the efforts of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), its population dynamics are now known and understood,...

  8. 5 WILD EXPERIMENTS: Rewilding Future Ecologies at the Oostvaardersplassen
    (pp. 97-118)

    In many ways the Oostvaardersplassen (OVP) is an unlikely icon of European wildness. This state-owned polder just north of Amsterdam was reclaimed from the sea in the 1960s and earmarked for industrial development. It is part of the largest artificial island in the world, kept afloat by dykes and continuous pumping. It is located in the Dutch suburbs, bisected by road, rail, and other infrastructure, and surrounded by some of the most valuable agricultural land in Europe (Figure 9). For a range of economic and hydraulic reasons, building never began. Instead, the site was abandoned and was colonized by wildlife,...

  9. 6 WILDLIFE ON SCREEN: The Affective Logics and Micropolitics of Elephant Imagery
    (pp. 119-138)

    We live in an age of the screen, surrounded and enveloped by moving imagery. Contemporary nature conservation takes place in and depends upon this mediated ecology, where Western publics are much more likely to encounter the charismatic organisms about which they are so concerned in print, online, or on TV than they are to meet them in the flesh. Elephants, tigers, and polar bears are now quotidian features of media landscapes, their representations proliferating even as their fleshy kin and vital ecologies disappear.¹ Watching animals is a popular and lucrative source of entertainment, and evocations of wildlife have governmental effects;...

  10. 7 BRINGING WILDLIFE TO MARKET: Flagship Species, Lively Capital, and the Commodification of Interspecies Encounters
    (pp. 139-158)

    In the summer of 2010, the streets of Central London were full of Asian elephants (Figure 12). Two hundred fifty fiberglass animals had been produced for the British NGO Elephant Family, who had them decorated by famous artists and distributed around high-profile locations. The models were accompanied by signage and willing volunteers keen to draw attention to the plight of the species and to solicit signatures and donations. This was a spectacular fund-raising initiative. It gained a great deal of media attention and corporate patronage and culminated in an elephant auction organized by Christie’s and attended by royalty and A-list...

  11. 8 SPACES FOR WILDLIFE: Alternative Topologies for Life in Novel Ecosystems
    (pp. 159-178)

    I took the Figure 13 photograph fifty stories up, on top of an office block in Canary Wharf in Central London. Alongside me was Dusty Gedge, an urban ecologist and cofounder of Livingroofs, an organization dedicated to “greening” UK roof spaces.¹ Around us higher still towered the headquarters of corporate behemoths in the global financial services industry. This is a landscape of sheer edges and abysses, of concrete, glass, and steel. It looks and feels a long way from Nature—or even the natures that have so far been featured in this book. But Dusty was grinning, for underfoot there...

  12. CONCLUSION: Cosmopolitics for Wildlife
    (pp. 179-194)

    This book is engaged in “anticipatory semantics” with the nascent concept of the Anthropocene.¹ It seeks to shape its emergence and leverage its conceptual and political potential to summon new modes of environmentalism. It wagers that the diagnosis of the Anthropocene offers a shock to thought, a catalyst for new modes of conservation. This is a bold, perhaps forlorn, hope. In the preceding chapters I seek to evaluate, critique, and affirm contemporary forms of conservation to flesh out an alternative mode of thought and practice. I term this acosmopolitics for wildlife. It will be clear by now that this...

  13. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 195-196)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 197-228)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 229-260)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 261-284)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-285)