Eben Kirksey is Lecturer in Environmental Humanities at the University of New South Wales. His research explores the political dimensions of imagination as well as the interplay of natural and cultural history. Amidst apocalyptic tales about environmental destruction, Eben is finding modest examples of biocultural hope. Working as a participant observer at multiple nodes of the Amphibian Ark—a global assemblage of biosecure holding facilities and cryogenic banks—he found that everyday life support technologies and routines of care have saved certain species of frogs from extinction.
Insights from his first book, Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power, inform Eben’s work on hope in biocultural worlds. He describes messianic hope as moving “like liquid mercury, dancing about, moving in different directions, coalescing around multiple figures” (Kirksey 2012: 32). In a forthcoming essay called “Hope in Blasted Landscapes”, he is bringing related ideas about hope to bear on artworks exhibited in The Multispecies Salon, a show that took place in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the flood of oil that spread following the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Prefiguring coming changes, and generating new natural and cultural coalescences, the artists who exhibited work in the Salon grounded their dreams in actual living creatures.
Writing in collaboration with Stefan Helmreich, Eben recently chronicled the “Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography”, a novel approach to writing culture in the Anthropocene. “Creatures previously appearing on the margins of anthropology—as part of the landscape, as food for humans, as symbols—have been pressed into the foreground in recent ethnographies. Animals, plants, fungi, and microbes once confined in anthropological accounts to the realm of zoe or “bare life”—that which is killable—have started to appear alongside humans in the realm of bios, with legibly biographical and political lives” (Kirksey and Helmreich 2012: 545).
Currently Eben Kirksey is a Visiting Assistant Professor and Mellon Fellow in Science Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.
Kirksey, S. Eben. “Ontological Amphibians”, in prep.
Kirksey, S. Eben. 2012. Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power, Durham: Duke University Press.
Kirksey, S. Eben (ed.) “The Multispecies Salon: Gleanings from a Para-site”, in prep.
Kirksey, S. Eben & Stefan Helmreich. 2010 (eds.) “The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography”, Cultural Anthropology 25 (4).
Articles and Essays
Kirksey, S. Eben. under review. “Ontological Amphibians”, Environmental Humanities. Under consideration for inaugural November 2012 journal issue.
Kirksey, S. Eben. accepted. “Interspecies Love in an Age of Excess: Being and Becoming With a Common Ant, Ectatomma ruidum (Roger)” in Anette Lanjouw & Raymond Corbey (eds) Humans and Other Animals: Rethinking the Species Interface (Cambridge University Press)
Kirksey, S. Eben, Craig Schuetze, Nick Shapiro. 2011 “Poaching at the Multispecies Salon” Kroeber Anthropological Society, 100(1): 129-153.
Kirksey, S. Eben. in press. “Thneeds Reseeds: A Figure of Biocultural Hope,” Rachel Carson Center Perspectives.
Kirksey, S. Eben & Stefan Helmreich. 2010. “The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography”, Cultural Anthropology 25 (4): 545-576.
Book review: Kirksey, S. Eben. 2012. Pigeon Trouble by Hoon Song and Wild Dog Dreaming by Deborah Bird Rose. Cultural Anthropology 27 (1): 185.
Book review: Kirksey, S. Eben. 2011. Conservation is Our Government Now by Paige West. Kroeber Anthropological Society, 100(1): 129-153.