Eva Haifa Giraud deposited Abundance in the Anthropocene on Humanities Commons 3 years, 8 months ago
Numerous attempts have been made to understand the Anthropocene in relation to overwhelming species and habitat loss. However, amidst these losses ecological niches have emerged and been taken as signs of resilience and hope: from mushrooms that flourish in damaged forests to urban wildlife in brownfield sites. This article offers an alternative conception of abundance, which addresses the sociological and conceptual challenges posed when abundance is a characteristic of so-called pests, parasites and pathogens. The article draws together research from three case studies: bed bugs, hookworms and antibiotic resistant microbes, all of which have become intimately entangled with particular human communities as other lifeforms have declined. Through contrasting these cases we elucidate how the affordances of abundant lifeforms, including the dangers they pose to other forms of life, are entwined with failed ‘technofixes’, colonial legacies and contemporary inequalities. In doing so we situate abundance as a constitutive element of the Anthropocene that requires as sustained an ethical engagement as questions of species loss. We conclude by arguing that further ethical attention needs to be paid to finding ways of ‘being alongside’ life that is difficult to live with, but is becoming intimately re-entangled with human worlds. In doing so, we complicate existing theoretical work that has drawn hope from multispecies abundance and entanglement.