- PANGAEA'S RETURN: TOWARDS AN ONTOLOGY OF INVASIVE LIFE
- Authors: Jonathan Everts; Karl Benediktsson
Pages: 131 - 138
Abstract: Invasive life has received much attention in recent years, being a prime example of the complex socio‐natural entanglements characterizing the present condition of the world. In this article we argue for an ontology of invasive life, consisting of three aspects. First, invasive life does indeed exist; second, it is deeply entangled with political action; and third, it has the capacity to produce new assemblages of socio‐natural phenomena. A recognition of these ontological premises opens up for analyses that go beyond the discussions of scientific moral judgement, and which will be a necessary part of reformulating the politics of human–nonhuman relations. The articulation of an invasive life ontology and its associated political project is inspired by, and vice versa serves as an introduction for, the following articles in this special issue, which address various aspects of these concerns.
- FLORAL HAZARDS: NOOTKA LUPIN IN ICELAND AND THE COMPLEX POLITICS OF
- Authors: Karl Benediktsson
Pages: 139 - 154
Abstract: Once established in new spaces, exotic plants not only impact the “native” biota, but also affect environmental politics in often complex ways. This article looks into one instance of such politics: that of the Nootka lupin (Lupinus nootkatensis), a leguminous plant of North American origin. Imported to Iceland in 1945 to stem soil degradation and recover vegetation, it soon became firmly established in Icelandic landscapes. Its spreading was actively assisted by human actors as part of fulfilling a moral duty to heal a land scarred by unsustainable past land use practices. Changing perspectives in environmental management have brought about a radical reversal in the lupin's status. It is now seen by many as a “floral hazard”, and has been declared an “invasive alien species” by the Ministry for the Environment. New lines of defence are being established to curb its spread into the deserts of the central highlands. A polarized debate has ensued about the politics of invasive life. Increased research by natural scientists has not led to any resolution. It is argued that such seemingly intractable controversies cannot be resolved unless close attention is paid to the historical construction of values and moralities underwriting the production of the discursive communities involved. Conditions of radical uncertainty with the advent of the Anthropocene further complicate the politics of invasive life.
- COMMUNICATING INVASION: UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL ANXIETIES AROUND MOBILE
- Authors: Marion Ernwein; Juliet J. Fall
Pages: 155 - 167
Abstract: This article explores how discourses of threat concerning invasive alien species emerge and how ordinary citizens understand, receive and appropriate them. It explores the ambivalence of scientists and policy‐makers using emotive or highly charged terms and vocabulary, arguing that many make strategic yet cautious use of fear to raise awareness. Based both on in‐depth interviews of scientists and/or expert policy‐makers involved in communicating with the public about invasive species, as well as citizen focus groups, it further discusses how individuals reflect critically on the terms used in written documents. We argue that the various scientific uncertainties concerning the impacts of invasive species foster and feed other domains of social anxiety beyond the usual concern previous research has shown for xenophobic connotations. These include wider fears about environmental technology, science and expertise, changing environments, and threats to human health.
- ENTANGLED INVASIVE LIVES: INDIGENOUS INVASIVE PLANT MANAGEMENT IN NORTHERN
- Authors: Lesley Head; Jennifer Atchison
Pages: 169 - 182
Abstract: This article explores the entanglement of two kinds of invasive lives in northern Australia: invasive plants, and the enduring life of the unfinished colonial project, which continues to have implications for indigenous peoples. In the extensive indigenous lands of Australia's tropical north, communities have increasing responsibility for invasive plant management among other pressing land management tasks. In a context of climate change and novel ecosystems, these entanglements exacerbate environmental management challenges in the tropical savanna and affect indigenous livelihoods. Drawing on arguments that it is necessary to literally speak novel ecologies, we here enunciate and describe a novel ecological assemblage we call Indigenous Invasive Plant Management (IIPM). Historical accounts and contemporary ethnography (semi‐structured interviews and participant observation undertaken in 2010–2013) show a lingering colonial heritage in the ways that IIPM is entwined with tenure and governance issues, and in its everyday practice. These findings illustrate how IIPM can risk being a form of continuing dispossession as well as having good potential outcomes.
- INVADED BY WEEDS: CONTESTED LANDSCAPE STORIES
- Pages: 183 - 193
Abstract: Landscapes tell stories of the lives and dwelling of those who inhabit them. They are not given, but in constant motion. In North Norwegian coastal societies cultural landscapes are rapidly transforming. One of the most visible and debated agents of landscape transformations are weeds such as cow parsley and dock. As well as threatening the biodiversity of coastal landscapes, the “invading weeds” seem to challenge the embodied landscapes of their dwellers. Focusing on the rapid spread of cow parsley, this article investigates complex and contested aspects of landscape changes. Inspired by Ingold's phenomenological perspective as well as performative theories, we search for ways of approaching hybridized relations within dwelt places. The transformative agency of cow parsley is used as a lens to approach societal dynamics and challenges. Through a study of the coastal community of Herøy in Northern Norway, we have explored people's engagement with the changing cultural landscape. The cow parsley covered landscape is perceived as a deteriorated landscape and as such seems to affect a form of alienation. We demonstrate a disruption between the emerging landscape produced by new ways of dwelling, and the landscape people wish to dwell in. What happens when the landscape tells stories which their dwellers do not want to be part of?
- INVASIVE LIFE, COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE, AND COMMUNITIES OF FATE
- Authors: Jonathan Everts
Pages: 195 - 208
Abstract: The article starts from the premise that invasive life has the capacity to produce human communities. Invasive life is conceptualized as a way in which humans categorize proliferating organisms as ‘non‐native’ to a particular territory. The article focuses on the kind of relationship of human beings to invasive life that invokes a sense of ‘being under attack’ on the human side. It is argued that the threat of invasive life produces ‘communities of fate’, which are theorized for the sake of this article in close relation to the concept of ‘communities of practice’. The social dynamics set in motion by such community formation are further analysed in relation to two different case studies: (1) the emergence of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic in Mexico, and (2) the invasive plants eradication campaign of a group of activists in Germany. The article concludes by discussing the merits of analysing social dynamics and community formation in relation to challenges posed by invasive life.