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This chapter introduces the main theorists associated with ecological hermeneutics, their objectives and strategies. It demonstrates how an ecological approach can be applied using a specific story from the book of Judges as a case study.
As the study of our “house,” ecology considers interactions between humans and our environments. Hutchinson noted modern society’s effects, including from overconsumption, on the major cycles of nitrogen, carbon, and other elements, foretelling research on the Earth system. A major driver is agriculture, including the scale of pesticide use, an alarm sounded by Rachel Carson in Silent Spring. Industrial agriculture keeps crop ecosystems in a perpetual early state, Odum contends, trading off calorie production for services provided by more-mature ecosystems, such as water purification. Holling showed that ecosystems can exist stably in different states and be resilient to impacts. Pastoral ecosystems may not have a single equilibrium state, as shown by Ellis and Swift, with implications for development. Species play various roles in ecosystems, and their loss can affect key services, as noted by Ehrlich and Mooney. Conserving biodiversity will benefit from Indigenous knowledge, argue Gadgil and colleagues, including knowledge of the shifting baseline of fisheries, notes Pauly. As Earth urbanizes, rural to urban gradients present a growing research opportunity, McDonnell and Pickett argue.
Wallace’s landscapes are haunted by capitalist interventions in the natural world, from the black sand of the Great Ohio Desert to the Great Convexity/Concavity that sits like a pustule between the United States and Canada. This chapter considers Wallace’s writing as an ecocritical gesture that connects human solipsism, hypercapitalism and the despoiling of the natural world. In tracing this connection, the chapter operates on the central theme of disgust, a recurrent and powerful motif throughout Wallace’s body of work. Working alongside the chapter on regional geographies, the chapter shows how Wallace troubled and complicated the regional archetypes that populate his writing by using images of the unheimlich and the grotesque, uniting the threatening, the decomposing and the simply absurd to highlight the depredations of the late capitalist system on the (American) landscape.
This new collection enables students and general readers to appreciate Coleridge’s renewed relevance 250 years after his birth. An indispensable guide to his writing for twenty-first-century readers, it contains new perspectives that reframe his work in relation to slavery, race, war, post-traumatic stress disorder and ecological crisis. Through detailed engagement with Coleridge’s pioneering poetry, the reader is invited to explore fundamental questions on themes ranging from nature and trauma to gender and sexuality. Essays by leading Coleridge scholars analyse and render accessible his extraordinarily innovative thinking about dreams, psychoanalysis, genius and symbolism. Coleridge is often a direct and gripping writer, yet he is also elusive and diverse. This Companion’s great achievement is to offer a one-volume entry point into his incomparably rich and varied world.
At the turn of the twentieth century, most of the world’s pearls were extracted from rich oyster and coral reefs on the northern Indian Ocean rim. This paper returns to the sites of extraction, studying imperial maps made from 1889–1925 to delineate oyster reefs on the seafloor. Building from the submarine up, I draw on environmental, animal, and history of science studies to explore the work of mapping oceanic, animate space. Attending to the role of divers, whose labor was required to make the seafloor visible, and the lifecycles of oysters, which changed over time, I argue that the seafloor represents a kind of unruly terrain, out of both the reach and control of imperial authorities. The paper’s final section meditates on reading humans as part of Indian Ocean landscapes and the possibilities this offers for further comparative, transnational work in a materialist vein.
This article presents a study of the careers of French colonial governors between 1830 and 1960. We consider empires as the by-product of social entities structuring themselves. Specifically, we analyze the process of the emergence of this professional group with respect to other professional groups within the imperial space and the French metropolitan space, building on the concept of linked ecologies. Using data on the career of 637 colonial governors between 1830 and 1960, we examine how variations in the recruitment of these senior civil servants actually reflect the professionalization of this group. We rely on an optimal matching technique to distinguish typical sequence models and identify nine common career trajectories that can be grouped into four main clusters. We further compare the share of each cluster in the population of governors over time and show that the rise of the colonial cluster during the Interwar period corresponded to the peak of the administrative autonomy in the colonial space. We argue that this process is consistent with the professionalization of the governors’ corps, which is embodied by a common career within the colonial administration and a collective identity as a group.
An emerging goal in conservation biology is to understand the impacts of armed conflict on wildlife populations and biodiversity, which in principle can be either positive or negative. The chapter reviews the available information about the effects of conflicts on wildlife harvest and habitat loss. The few large-scale quantitative analyses to date suggest that, on average, conflict intensifies both direct exploitation and habitat conversion. However, location-specific case studies present exceptions to this general pattern. Explaining these outcomes requires deeper insight into the mechanisms by which conflict affects wildlife, but the deficiency of data about wildlife population trends in conflict-prone regions remains a serious obstacle. The chapter discusses innovative and more traditional methods for expanding the knowledge base and reducing the prevailing biases – both geographic and taxonomic – in the existing ecological data. Last, it briefly surveys encouraging evidence that post-war interventions can rehabilitate wildlife populations and coupled human-natural systems on surprisingly rapid timescales.
When the global material reality has already been reshaped and determined by western modernity, Gandhism and Maoism stand for attempts to discover a material world other than the existing one. I examine the ways in which the theory and practice of the body in Mao and Gandhi resonates with new materialisms' views of the body and matter as dynamic multitude and anti-dualistic open system. Gandhi and Mao share the concerns of new materialism in terms of seeing human bodies, environments, (in)organic matters and systems as configurations of multiple influences and dependencies. To put Maoism and Gandhism in the perspective of today's new materialism, the entanglement of human, nature and matter in their ideas also functions as a kind of agency in connection to other socio-political forces (instead of deploying ethics, as current new materialist ontologies have done) to enact changes. The ways in which the two formidable Asian thinkers grasp materials sound more like an abstraction, revealing that materialisms – either old or new – may be something other than what they define themselves as.
As I indicated in the Introduction, I will begin my tour of four select security referents at the macro level and work my way down. I will do so for four reasons. The first is to help shake off any lingering anthropocentric biases that might skew the analysis were we to work in the opposite direction. Human security, of course, naturally invites an anthropocentric treatment; culture as I shall be discussing it is also largely a human concern; and the state is a human creation. Were we to get into the habit of putting people at the centre of our analysis, we might do so too readily precisely where it would be least appropriate. The second is that ecospheric security will be the least familiar concept of the four and for that reason might risk coming across as an afterthought if I were to treat it last. Third, and relatedly, given the unfamiliar style of analysis to which I aim to subject these referents, I see advantages in giving it its first rigorous test in a context in which it is least likely to grate, hoping thereby to cultivate a degree of comfort with it once I turn to referents that we are used to analyzing in less unconventional ways. Fourth, and most importantly, I will argue that the ecosphere must take priority as a security referent, and accordingly must condition our understanding of the others. This argument would be more difficult to make were I to put various carts before the horse.
Some snakes are the only vertebrates able to engulf prey with cross-sectional areas several times larger than the area encompassed by the snake’s jaws at peak gape. This ability is conferred by modifying soft tissues ventral to the axial musculoskeletal system for extraordinary extensibility between the mandibles and stomach. Moving large prey into the gut depends on structural decoupling of toothed jaws from the braincase. In all living snakes, kinetic jaws form mobile ratchets. In scolecophidians, transverse maxillary or dentary ratchets have evolved to move small prey into the gut. In alethinophidians, longitudinal palatopterygoid ratchets move the head and body of the snake over the prey. Evidence from extant snakes shows that streptostyly, prokinesis, rhinokinesis and loss of all ventral skeletal elements connected to the axial skeleton were critical to evolution of the upper-jaw ratchet on which macrostomy is based. The existing fossil record gives tantalizing clues that suggest the ancestor of snakes might have been macrostomous. Resolution of this issue will require structural details of the snout, braincase, and toothed ratchets in both ‘basal’ extant snakes and fossils.
The origin and early evolution of snakes has long been studied, but little research has focused on soft-tissue organs such as the brain. I report data from dissections and 3D reconstructions of the endocasts of diverse species, including the Cretaceous stem snake Dinilysia patagonica in order to provide a comparative evolutionary framework for the snake brain. Snakes are a special case among reptiles because the braincase almost entirely encloses the whole brain, so endocasts provide realistic representations of brain size and shape. Diversity of brain gross anatomy among snakes is remarkable, encompassing two major cerebrotypes occurring in surface-dwelling and burrowing species. The repeated acquisition of the burrowing cerebrotype in different and phylogenetically distant snake clades suggests that brain gross anatomy is surprisingly evolutionary labile in snakes. Brain gross anatomy and other features such as body size and the absence of any unequivocal osteological feature related to burrowing is interpreted as evidence that D. patagonica was surface-dwelling, and that at least some of the early history of snakes occurred above ground.
This brief chapter introduces the book. The rationale, scope, and coverage are summarized, including mention of topics that are not covered. Aspects of debate, disagreement, and consensus in the field are summarized before the chapter is concluded with a look to future potential progress.
Snakes have distinct body plans that can be traced to the origin of the clade. It remains unresolved whether ancestral snakes were adapted to terrestrial environments as burrowers, or to marine environments as swimmers. Recently, new approaches have been used to infer fossorial and aquatic specialists in the early evolution of snakes, using virtual CT models of the ear of fossils. This chapter reviews variation in the osseous part of the ear of major snake lineages. Vestibules are relatively large in fossorial species and small in aquatic snakes. Using quantitative analyses of bony labyrinth geometry, it has been suggested that putative stem snakes, such as Dinilysia patagonica, were fossorial. Improvements to testing correlations between bony labyrinth morphology and ecology can be made in the refinement of quantitative approaches to capturing and analysing shape variations, as well as better classifications of ecology. Using inner and middle ear morphology to improve the accuracy and precision of inferences of the ecology of the ancestral snake will depend also upon robust, well-resolved phylogenies for extinct and extant taxa, and denser taxonomic and ecomorphological sampling.
This chapter examines the way two related genres, science fiction (SF) and the weird, deploy horror to critique the sources and expressions of “American horror” – namely, the dark side of American exceptionalism and the social and environmental consequences of its imperialist projects. The two genres share similar generic genealogies, but they diverge teleologically. SF is built on the assumptions of scientific rationalism and therefore follows an identifiable internal logic, relying on our implicit or explicit belief in the plausibility of the story. The weird, by contrast, is resolutely committed to the inexplicable. Both, however, use horror to disrupt our reliance on realist modes of representation that flatter our epistemological certainties. As such, both SF and the weird have been platforms for colonialist and nationalist imaginations, but both have also been potent vehicles for revealing, resisting, and repairing the brutalities of such imaginations.
Given that “Nature” is historically imbricated in the history of Christianity, the secularizing movement of modernity puts nature under intense pressure. The resulting conflicts are modeled by the United States, which authorized political revolution by invoking “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” The American Transcendentalists extended nature as divine order and transcendent arbiter to authorize intellectual revolution, consolidating liberal Protestantism, European Romanticism, and modern science into a template for the meaning of nature in modernity; humans became not humble creatures in God’s creation but God’s avatars commanding all merely material beings. Today, as the resulting ecological collapse destabilizes inherited concepts of nature, “ecology” is offered as a replacement, even though ecology as a science cannot offer moral value or spiritual meaning. This intellectual history is traced through the founding work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who offered idealism as the engine of modernity, and three followers, Orestes Brownson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller, who variously pluralized nature into the plenitude of material forms and beings seen as vulnerable incarnations of a higher or divine life force, prefiguring the science and ethics of ecology as an aspect of, rather than replacement for, nature.
Suckerfish attached to dolphin species have been extensively reported worldwide, yet such association has been rarely seen in the tropical and shallow waters of South America. In Brazil, the Guiana dolphin Sotalia guianensis is distributed along almost the entire extent of the coast and only one case of association with suckerfish has been published. Here we report on a sharksucker Echeneis naucrates associated with a young Guiana dolphin on the north-eastern coast of Brazil. The juvenile dolphin with an attached sharksucker was observed on two occasions separated by a 47-day period; we hypothesize the occurrence of host attachment fidelity. The present report adds information to better discuss the ecological interactions between echeneids and dolphins, and expands the baseline information on cetacean species serving as host to suckerfish.
Snakes comprise nearly 4,000 extant species found on all major continents except Antarctica. Morphologically and ecologically diverse, they include burrowing, arboreal, and marine forms, feeding on prey ranging from insects to large mammals. Snakes are strikingly different from their closest lizard relatives, and their origins and early diversification have long challenged and enthused evolutionary biologists. The origin and early evolution of snakes is a broad, interdisciplinary topic for which experts in palaeontology, ecology, physiology, embryology, phylogenetics, and molecular biology have made important contributions. The last 25 years has seen a surge of interest, resulting partly from new fossil material, but also from new techniques in molecular and systematic biology. This volume summarises and discusses the state of our knowledge, approaches, data, and ongoing debates. It provides reviews, syntheses, new data and perspectives on a wide range of topics relevant to students and researchers in evolutionary biology, neontology, and palaeontology.
Nature and Literary Studies supplies a broad and accessible overview of one of the most important and contested keywords in modern literary studies. Drawing together the work of leading scholars of a variety of critical approaches, historical periods, and cultural traditions, the book examines nature's philosophical, theological, and scientific origins in literature, as well as how literary representations of this concept evolved in response to colonialism, industrialization, and new forms of scientific knowledge. Surveying nature's diverse applications in twenty-first-century literary studies and critical theory, the volume seeks to reconcile nature's ideological baggage with its fundamental role in fostering appreciation of nonhuman being and agency. Including chapters on wilderness, pastoral, gender studies, critical race theory, and digital literature, the book is a key resource for students and professors seeking to understand nature's role in the environmental humanities.
From Gaelic annals and medieval poetry to contemporary Irish literature, A History of Irish Literature and the Environment examines the connections between the Irish environment and Irish literary culture. Themes such as Ireland's island ecology, the ecological history of colonial-era plantation and deforestation, the Great Famine, cultural attitudes towards animals and towards the land, the postcolonial politics of food and energy generation, and the Covid-19 pandemic - this book shows how these factors determine not only a history of the Irish environment but also provide fresh perspectives from which to understand and analyze Irish literature. An international team of contributors provides a comprehensive analysis of Irish literature to show how the literary has always been deeply engaged with environmental questions in Ireland, a crucial new perspective in an age of climate crisis. A History of Irish Literature and the Environment reveals the socio-cultural, racial, and gendered aspects embedded in questions of the Irish environment.
The 2015 Paris Agreement, complementing the United Nations Framework Con-vention on Climate Change, showcases an impressive consensus on climatological rhetoric. Thereby, it will contribute certainly neither to achieving its overall objectives on temperature nor to redressing any of the resulting “loss [or] damage” yet possibly to continuing the worldwide dialogue on the environment or on ecological entitle-ments. This chapter will dissect and categorize these. It will conclude that the fram-ers essentially kept the conversation going, nationally and internationally encourag-ing the establishment, the adjudicatory branch, and the public to resume the concep-tual or practical advancement on the topic.