Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings Of Endangered Species by Ursula K. HeiseImagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings Of Endangered Species by Ursula K. Heise

Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings Of Endangered Species

byUrsula K. Heise

Paperback | August 10, 2016

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We are currently facing the sixth mass extinction of species in the history of life on Earth, biologists claim—the first one caused by humans. Activists, filmmakers, writers, and artists are seeking to bring the crisis to the public’s attention through stories and images that use the strategies of elegy, tragedy, epic, and even comedy. Imagining Extinction is the first book to examine the cultural frameworks shaping these narratives and images.

Ursula K. Heise argues that understanding these stories and symbols is indispensable for any effective advocacy on behalf of endangered species. More than that, she shows how biodiversity conservation, even and especially in its scientific and legal dimensions, is shaped by cultural assumptions about what is valuable in nature and what is not. These assumptions are hardwired into even seemingly neutral tools such as biodiversity databases and laws for the protection of endangered species. Heise shows that the conflicts and convergences of biodiversity conservation with animal welfare advocacy, environmental justice, and discussions about the Anthropocene open up a new vision of multispecies justice. Ultimately, Imagining Extinction demonstrates that biodiversity, endangered species, and extinction are not only scientific questions but issues of histories, cultures, and values.
Ursula K. Heise is the Marcia H. Howard Chair in Literary Studies in the Department of English and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her books include Chronoschisms: Time, Narrative, and Postmodernism and Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of...
Title:Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings Of Endangered SpeciesFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:August 10, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022635816X

ISBN - 13:9780226358161

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: From the End of Nature to the Beginning of the Anthropocene
1 Lost Dogs, Last Birds, and Listed Species: Elegy and Comedy in Conservation Stories
2 From Arks to Database, Epic, and Biodiversity
3 The Legal Lives of Endangered Species: Biodiversity Laws and Culture
4 Mass Extinction and Mass Slaughter: Biodiversity, Violence, and the Dangers of Domestication
5 Biodiversity, Environmental Justice, and Multispecies Communities
6 Multispecies Fictions for the Anthropocene
Coda: The Hug of the Polar Bear
Works Cited

Editorial Reviews

“This ambitious study covers extensive intellectual ground. The author’s goal is not to understand what endangered species and extinction mean biologically but to move toward understanding what they do (and perhaps to learn what they could eventually come to) mean culturally—or, in her words, ‘how they mean culturally.’ That distinction does not and should not be taken as an indication that this book does not represent relevant reading for biologists. It does, although it is equally relevant for anyone concerned about biodiversity and the environment.”