In Decolonizing Extinction Juno Salazar Parreñas ethnographically traces the ways in which colonialism, decolonization, and indigeneity shape relations that form more-than-human worlds at orangutan rehabilitation centers on Borneo. Parreñas tells the interweaving stories of wildlife workers and the centers' endangered animals while demonstrating the inseparability of risk and futurity from orangutan care. Drawing on anthropology, primatology, Southeast Asian history, gender studies, queer theory, and science and technology studies, Parreñas suggests that examining workers’ care for these semi-wild apes can serve as a basis for cultivating mutual but unequal vulnerability in an era of annihilation. Only by considering rehabilitation from perspectives thus far ignored, Parreñas contends, could conservation biology turn away from ultimately violent investments in population growth and embrace a feminist sense of welfare, even if it means experiencing loss and pain.
Introduction: Decolonizing Extinction 1
Part I. Relations
1. From Ape Motherhood to Tough Love 33
2. On the Surface of Skin and Earth 61
Part II. Enclosures
3. Forced Copulation for Conservation 83
4. Finding a Living 105
Part III. Futures
5. Arrested Autonomy 131
6. Hospice for a Dying Species 157
Conclusion: Living and Dying Together 177
“Even the processes of extinction are subject to active colonization. But what would shared vulnerability be outside violent domination and ongoing colonization of human and nonhuman others? This book's focus is the painful work of care of captive 'rehabilitating' orangutans by workers themselves enmeshed in structures of arrested autonomy. These are extraordinary, entirely unromantic social relations at the edge of extinction and at the heart of extraction and exploitation. Here is a deep, heartfelt, and quite simply brilliant book that gives us a needed theory of decolonization in the everyday work of care in impossible circumstances. Who lives and who dies and how inside which practices of care? How might things—still—be otherwise?”
Donna J. Haraway, author of
Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene
“How can humans and orangutans share a future together in the midst of violence and extinction? How do we embrace risk and cultivate attentiveness with endangered species? Can we let go of safe inequality? In this moving, stunning story of interspecies relations in a Malaysian wildlife center, Juno Salazar Parreñas demands we decolonize our understanding of conviviality, extinction, and loss. Functioning as an orangutan hospice, a place for palliation and not solutions, the wildlife center becomes a tragic allegory for the fate of our planet. What is to be done? Here Parreñas allows us to glimpse a different future.”
Warwick Anderson, author of
Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines
"This is seriously thought-provoking and challenging material, and it may be essential to understand it if we want to save orangutans from ourselves."
John R. Platt
"Impactful. . . . Juno S. Parreñas details diverse assumptions and expectations participants bring to this complex network, thereby generating a unique and timely addition to the conservation literature. Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty and professionals."
L. K. Sheeran
"Decolonizing Extinction is essential reading for anyone with the ambition to do multispecies ethnography well. It’s also a beautiful and moving book that struggles with the ethical weight of ethnography as a mode of knowledge production."
Gabriel N. Rosenberg
Radical History Review