Former BIOSEC Project fellows Dr Brock Bersaglio (University of Birmingham) and Dr Jared Margulies (University of Alabama) have just published an exciting new paper entitled ‘Extinctionscapes: Spatializing the commodification of animal lives and afterlives in conservation landscapes’ in Social and Cultural Geography.
This article advances a more-than-human perspective on geographies of death and dying, engaging with extinctionscapes as spaces where the memorialization of nonhuman life generates affective and commodifiable experiences with species loss in conservation landscapes. Bringing geographical concepts, such as absence-presence, into conversation with recent literature on lively commodities, we describe how animals at the threshold of life and death are made to work for conservation as well as how their afterlives are subjected to ongoing forms of commodification through acts of memorialization in landscape. Specifically, our analysis focuses on the stories of three rhinos at a conservancy in Kenya to consider the themes of death and dying, value, and commodification in relation to endangered species conservation. By situating the lives and afterlives of these rhinos in the history of settler colonialism and capitalism in Kenya, we examine how commodification, as a social and cultural process, becomes entangled with the corporeal and discorporate lives of animals and contributes to the reproduction of historic injustices through extinctionscapes. Ultimately, we argue for ongoing critical engagement with the amorphous borderland of life and death in geographies of conservation, which represents an important space of biopolitics and commodification.
You can read the full paper here