Eben Kirksey

Eben Kirksey

Crossing conventional disciplinary divides, Eben Kirksey has contributed to theoretical conversations in the social sciences, biology, the humanities, and the arts. http://ebenkirksey.blogspot.com/

Location Princeton University, USA


  • Ge Sell, you might like Ashley Dawson's new book, Extinction: a Radical History


    “A succinct and moving account of the co-evolution of capitalism, imperialism, and climate change. Dawson demonstrates not only how capitalism created climate change but also why the former must be challenged in...

  • Elisabeth--I'm very excited to hear about your long term project. Learning how to make these small adjustments--figuring out who to care for and how--are exactly the sorts of things that we all need to do to live responsibly in multispecies worlds. Next time I'm in London I'd love to meet your newts.

  • For more on this check out Thom van Dooren's wonderful book called Flightways. The chapter on penguins is all about how people in Sydney have encroached on places where penguins have been living for generations: http://thomvandooren.org/publications/flight-ways/

  • Paul, taken together I hope that these interventions get you thinking about two things: 1) Possible unintended consequences of making interventions in multispecies worlds; 2) Practices of care that might open up convivial futures. Certainly surprises do arise when we make interventions in ecological assemblages, but tactful interventions can generate lively...

  • Stephanie--this is indeed a baby step, but it isn't just symbolic. It's about caring for actual animals, plants, and microbes that are in our immediate environment.

  • Key questions in these situations are: Who benefits (cui bono) from these blasted landscapes? How do we move beyond the fact of multispecies mingling to care for critters flourishing in places that have been abandoned?

  • Feeling jealous as I type from my art studio in Brooklyn!

  • I think you might also like this art project:


    The artists have created a lending library--teaching people how to collect plant seeds and care for unloved organisms in urban landscapes.

  • for more on knitting as conservation practice check out: the institute for figuration.

  • The original recipe is in the published book, The Multispecies Salon. Here is a free copy of this essay: http://www.multispecies-salon.org/working/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Multispecies-Communities-A-Recipe-for-Thneeds-Reseeds-byEben-Kirksey.pdf

  • the Reverted Zone of Panama is similar. Check out the book Emergent Ecologies for a description of this post disaster zone of flourishing.

  • Helen--yes, caring for this small scale and intimate community in a bathtub is meant to get people thinking differently about large scale intensive management regimes like the one i wrote about in Palo Verde National Park--the essay on "Living with Parasites" we read earlier in the course. Ge Sell, if you are interested in how you might move from these...

  • In "para-selves" the prefix "para-" means auxiliary. "Para-selves" do support work for the self. Rather than view the self as a something that can ever exist alone, the notion of para-self puts us in a less egotistical place where care for others is about care for the extended self. Hope this helps!

  • Hi Liz, Very cool to see your frog blog. My new book, Emergent Ecologies, devotes a number of chapters to frogs as well as the amphibian killing fungus that is destroying their worlds. Here is a link to a playful video I made exploring these issues:


    And, nope, the Rainbow Lorikeet pic is from Depot Beach, in...

  • Thanks for sharing all of this Gordon! How are the hedgehogs doing in your neck of the woods? One of my PhD students, Laura McLauchlan, is studying the cultural lives of hedgehogs--the declines in the UK as well as the way that they have gone feral in New Zealand. https://www.facebook.com/laura.mclauchlan

  • Interesting! Thanks for sharing. In Florida, where I grew up, apple snails are endangered. For an unexpected twist on this story see: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-02-16/news/sfl-jumbo-snails-help-everglades-bird-20120215_1_apple-snails-snail-kite-native-apple

  • For an excellent article on this point, check out Tim Mitchell's "Can the Mosquito Speak?" https://www.scribd.com/doc/256960852/Mitchell-Can-the-Mosquito-Speak

  • Barbara, your comment about fungi having a better chance at survival reminds me of a classic article by Susan Leigh Star called "Layers of Silence, Arenas of Voice: The Ecology of Visible and Invisible Work" (link below). Star argues that making certain kinds of work visible (in human worlds) often exposes people to surveillance, intensive management, and...

  • I'd argue that critical anthropomorphism reveals things about the world (and the beings living in it) as much as it conceals. Mechanomorphism - the notion of giving things that are not mechanical, mechanical qualities - is a prevailing trope in the biological sciences. Any metaphor can be useful to ride on for a little while, the trick is knowing when to get...

  • Getting governments to understand might involve strategic simplifications (like the "strategic essentialism" that scholars have described in other contexts.

  • Exactly--the lack of climax is a key idea of Thousand Plateaus, the wild theoretical compendium of D&G.

  • Very interesting! What part of the world are you finding the snails as rice parasites?

  • Some charismatic critters are regarded by conservationists as "flagship" or "umbrella" species, helping others in the shadows hold on to their own habitat by attracting funds from people. Anne notes above that there are many living in zones of abandon--worlds created with the well being of others in mind--but there are also many communities of uncharismatic...

  • Yes, one of the key points of reference here is Spivak's classic essay: "Can the Subaltern Speak?" http://www.uky.edu/~tmute2/geography_methods/readingPDFs/spivak.pdf

  • Gordon, I would be very keen to hear more about your nature reserve. And also how you make very high stakes (but potentially arbitrary) decisions about which species to care for, and which to kill. I think (following Matt Chrulew) that one of the most profound ethical questions of our time is: Who to love in an era of extinction?

  • Indeed--the field research for this essay was very physically engaded. Wandering around the hinterlands of Costa Rica, searching for an agora...

  • On this point check out a classic article by Brown (cited in my essay) about landlords as parasites.

  • Yes! The fringe-toed-foam frog is a figure of hope in Palo Verde, because many other frogs are not proving to be resilient right now. Later on in the course, I'll mention a literal Ark--a global network of biosecure facilities--that has been built to save thousands of endangered frogs.

  • Yes, expecting the unexpected is exactly what I was trying to get at.