Apocalyptic Coyotes: A post-human celebration of the capacity of the “unruly”

Authors: Alexandra Boesel*, University of Calgary, Shelley Alexander, Advisor
Topics: Anthropocene, Animal Geographies, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: apocalypse, unruly, coyotes, Anthropocene, post-human
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Coyotes have long transgressed human-conceived boundaries of space and thereby present fascinating implications for the Anthropocene. Apocalyptic narratives of this era trend towards the post-political problematization of “human”, and in doing so falsely suggest equal responsibility in environmental and social crises across humanity, denying vast heterogeneity and power inequities. In Apocalypse Meow, Collard suggests interrogating the human subject, asking how humanity is articulated, produced and maintained. As with many other taxonomies of power, the dominant category, or in this case human, is broadly dependent on the “other”—the animal other. In this paper, we delve into the effects of this binary in an analysis of human landowner perceptions of coyotes in the Alberta Foothills of Canada. We illustrate how the naturalization of the superiority of humans makes coyotes, deemed well-outside of the confines of humanity, “killable” per Haraway, and “non-criminally put to death” per Derrida. While humanity is a deeply embedded and historicized category, we argue it is not concrete, the limits being cultural and temporal, and for that very reason also never closed. We push to re-politicize narratives of the Anthropocene by properly attributing responsibility, naming the rules and limits of humanity such that we may allow humanity itself to evanesce into the apocalypse. In this effort to name the methods of production, articulation and maintenance of humanity, we look to coyotes, who in their transgressions and unruliness, allow humans to articulate their rules and limitations and thus demarcate the very humanity we must do away with.

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