“Interspecies Peace: Learning to Live Together,” forthcoming in Histories of Nature and Environment: Perspectives and Dialogues.
From time immemorial we have conceived of our relationship to other human beings and, by extension, to non-humans, as a permanent state of warfare, punctuated by fleeting periods of truce. Such an approach has colored our view of plants and animals as beings constantly engaged in a struggle against one another, in a contest for the “survival of fittest,” both individually and at the level of the species. According to this perspective, humanity merely follows a generalized condition of life as a ruthless fight for survival that justifies dominating and exploiting those who might further our goals and slaughtering the ones who stand in the way. In this article, I suggest that we look at interspecies relations from the perspective of peace and not war. Can the “wolf dwell with the lamb / and the leopard […] lie down with the young goat,” as the Old Testament metaphorically would have it in its image of a righteous Earth? Can humans live peacefully side by side with non-human beings? I avail myself of theories of cosmopolitanism to delineate the notion of interspecies peace as an alternative to the current war of all against all that characterizes our relationship to other living beings.
“The Posthuman Poetry of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen.” (in progress)
The essay analyzes the poetry of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen from the perspective of recent theories on posthumanism. I argue that Andresen’s body of work could be read as an example of posthuman literature avant la lettre, in that the author gives center-stage to animals, plants and things, who become active participants in her poetry. The article focuses specifically on the issue of language and contends that Andresen tacitly adopts a materialistic standpoint in her texts, foreshadowing what theorist such as Karen Barad or Rosi Braidotti have dubbed “agential realism” or “vital materialism.” For Andresen, language is not separate from the materiality of the things themselves, and there is a continuity stretching from human language and literature to the existence of all other entities. The essay ends by teasing out the ethical consequence of such stance.