Thom van Dooren

Thom van Dooren is a field philosopher at the University of Sydney and the University of Oslo. He is the author of Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction and The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds. Donna Haraway has called him “a leader in learning to learn without the tools of human exceptionalism.”

  • A World in a Shell

    Snail Stories for a Time of Extinctions

    Thom van Dooren

    Following the trails of Hawai'i's snails to explore the simultaneously biological and cultural significance of extinction.

    In this time of extinctions, the humble snail rarely gets a mention. And yet snails are disappearing faster than any other species. In A World in a Shell, Thom van Dooren offers a collection of snail stories from Hawai'i—once home to more than 750 species of land snails, almost two-thirds of which are now gone. Following snail trails through forests, laboratories, museums, and even a military training facility, and meeting with scientists and Native Hawaiians, van Dooren explores ongoing processes of ecological and cultural loss as they are woven through with possibilities for hope, care, mourning, and resilience.

    Van Dooren recounts the fascinating history of snail decline in the Hawaiian Islands: from deforestation for agriculture, timber, and more, through the nineteenth century shell collecting mania of missionary settlers, and on to the contemporary impacts of introduced predators. Along the way he asks how both snail loss and conservation efforts have been tangled up with larger processes of colonization, militarization, and globalization. These snail stories provide a potent window into ongoing global process of environmental and cultural change, including the largely unnoticed disappearance of countless snails, insects, and other less charismatic species. Ultimately, van Dooren seeks to cultivate a sense of wonder and appreciation for our damaged planet, revealing the world of possibilities and relationships that lies coiled within a snail's shell.

    • Hardcover $29.95

Contributor

  • Cryopolitics

    Cryopolitics

    Frozen Life in a Melting World

    Joanna Radin and Emma Kowal

    The social, political, and cultural consequences of attempts to cheat death by freezing life.

    As the planet warms and the polar ice caps melt, naturally occurring cold is a resource of growing scarcity. At the same time, energy-intensive cooling technologies are widely used as a means of preservation. Technologies of cryopreservation support global food chains, seed and blood banks, reproductive medicine, and even the preservation of cores of glacial ice used to study climate change. In many cases, these practices of freezing life are an attempt to cheat death. Cryopreservation has contributed to the transformation of markets, regimes of governance and ethics, and the very relationship between life and death. In Cryopolitics, experts from anthropology, history of science, environmental humanities, and indigenous studies make clear the political and cultural consequences of extending life and deferring death by technoscientific means.

    The contributors examine how and why low temperatures have been harnessed to defer individual death through freezing whole human bodies; to defer nonhuman species death by freezing tissue from endangered animals; to defer racial death by preserving biospecimens from indigenous people; and to defer large-scale human death through pandemic preparedness. The cryopolitical lens, emphasizing the roles of temperature and time, provokes new and important questions about living and dying in the twenty-first century.

    ContributorsWarwick Anderson, Michael Bravo, Jonny Bunning, Matthew Chrulew, Soraya de Chadarevian, Alexander Friedrich, Klaus Hoeyer, Frédéric Keck, Eben Kirksey, Emma Kowal, Joanna Radin, Deborah Bird Rose, Kim TallBear, Charis Thompson, David Turnbull, Thom van Dooren, Rebecca J. H. Woods

    • Hardcover $40.00