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Origins, Uses, and Transformation of Extinction Rhetoric

Richard J. Ladle and Paul Jepson

The concept of extinction is at the heart of the modern conservation movement, and massive resources have been spent on developing models and frameworks for quantifying and codifying a phenomenon that has been described by American researcher and naturalist Edward O. Wilson as an obscure and local biological process. Scientists, environmentalists, and politicians have repeatedly used extinction rhetoric as a core justification for a global conservation agenda that seeks to influence a wide range of human activities despite the inherent difficulty and uncertainty involved in estimating current and future rates of extinction, or even in verifying the demise of a particular species. In this article we trace the historical origins of the extinction concept and discuss its power to influence policies, agendas, and behaviors. We argue that conservation needs to develop a more culturally meaningful rhetoric of extinction that aligns scientific evidence, cultural frames, institutional frameworks, and organizational interests.

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Witnessing the Unseen

Extinction, Spirits, and Anthropological Responsibility

Liana Chua

forms of witnessing that I have encountered in my current research on orangutan conservation and earlier fieldwork with indigenous Bidayuhs in Borneo: first, the technologies through which orangutan extinction is made visualizable and alarmingly

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Bequeathing a World

Ecological Inheritance, Generational Conflict, and Dispossession

Kath Weston

passed along the poisoned gift of a damaged environment? Ours were small gestures, to be sure, proportionate with our still-growing bodies. Looking at the dismal record of greenhouse gas production, extinction, and ecological exploitation since, those

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Whose death, whose eco-revival?

Filling in while emptying out the depopulated Balkan Mountains

Ivan Rajković

around water's vitalist imagery ( Muehlebach 2023 ), they rose to protect local rivers as a source of “Life itself” in a world seen as on the brink of extinction. It was in the name of such total, environmental reproductive justice that new repopulation

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From Invasive to Iconic

A New Cultural Typology of Introduced Species

Clayton Fordahl


Recent years have seen a shift in the social scientific study of introduced species. Social scientists have shown that popular interpretations vary beyond the critical, invasive frameworks and include more celebratory or welcoming responses. Yet this research has taken the form of case studies. This has limited comparative inquiry. In response, this article develops a typology of sociocultural responses to introduced species by nonspecialists. The article then discusses major forms of collective meaning-making that go into creating these different cultural types.

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Tuna Tales

Narratives that Persuade as They Explain International Fisheries Management

D. G. Webster

Steven Adolf. 2019. Tuna Wars: Powers Around the Fish We Love to Conserve . New York: Springer. Jennifer E. Telesca. 2020. Red Gold: The Managed Extinction of the Giant Bluefin Tuna . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. These two

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Extinction Rebellion, Image events, social media and the eclipse of the earth

Kevin Michael DeLuca

Open access

Book Reviews

Ellen A. Ahlness and David G. Anderson

Department of Veterans Affairs researcher Earth, Ice, Bone, Blood: Permafrost and Extinction in the Russian Arctic. Charlotte Wrigley . (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2023), 236 pp. ISBN: 978-1517911829. In her stunning first book, the

Open access

Democracies in the Ethnosphere

An Anthropologist's Lived Experiences of Indigenous Democratic Cultures

Wade Davis and Jean-Paul Gagnon

species of plant and animal are moribund or on the brink of extinction. Yet this, the most apocalyptic projection in the realm of biological diversity, scarcely approaches what we know to be the most optimistic scenario in the realm of cultural diversity

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Goals, Strategies, and Tactics

Continuity and Change in Extinction Rebellion in the United Kingdom

Benjamin Farrer, Linda Doyle, and Soleil Smith

; Lincoln 2021 ; Loadenthal 2017 ; Malm 2021 ; Pellow 2014 ; Scheuerman 2021 ; Woodhouse 2018 ). In this article, we argue that Extinction Rebellion in the United Kingdom (henceforth, XRUK) represents an important new chapter in this history of