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Living With Parasites in Palo Verde National Park

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Author(s): Eben Kirksey

Journal: Environmental Humanities
ISSN 2201-1919

Volume: 1;
Start page: 23;
Date: 2012;
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ABSTRACT
Bruno Latour has tried to bring a parliamentary democracy to the domain of nature. Wading through the swamps of Palo Verde, a national park in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica, and wandering onto neighbouring agricultural lands, I failed to find a central place where people were speaking for nature. Departing from a failed attempt to speak for another species (the fringe-toed foam frog), this paper considers how diverging values and obligations shape relationships in multi-species worlds. As spokespersons articulated competing visions of nature on the borderlands of Palo Verde, multiple social and ecological worlds went to war. The haunting specter of capital joined the fray—animating the movements of cattle, grasses with animal rhizomes, rice seeds, and flighty ducks across national borders and through fragmented landscapes. Amidst this warfare, the fringe-toed foam frog was just one tenacious parasite, a noisy agent eating at the table of another, which began to flourish in worlds designed with the well-being of others in mind. Cattails, charismatic birds, and a multitude of insects began interrupting human dreams and schemes. Final solutions to the problem of living with parasites failed in Palo Verde. Humans and parasites, who became para-selves of one another, maintained an abiding presence in the landscape.
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