The Demon-Seed: Bioinvasion as the Unsettling of Environmental Cosmopolitanism

Clark, Nigel (2002). The Demon-Seed: Bioinvasion as the Unsettling of Environmental Cosmopolitanism. Theory, Culture & Society, 19(1-2) pp. 101–125.




Spearheaded by Beck and the ‘world risk society’ thesis, contemporary commentators in search of evidence of political renewal ‘from below’ have discerned a convergence of environmental and cosmopolitan sensibilities. But through its foregrounding of the destabilization of matter by new technologies, this ‘environmental cosmopolitanism’ tends to reenact the conventional binary of passive nature and dynamic culture. It is suggested that this expresses a metropolitan detachment from the everyday experience of working with flows of matter and life. Drawing on the pivotal role of bioinvasion in the European colonization of the temperate periphery, an alternative perspective on ecological globalization is presented which takes account of the ‘weedy opportunism’ and inherent mobility of biological life. In this way, ‘globalization from below’ takes on the meaning of an opening of culture to the ‘unsettling’ influence of biological and geological histories that manifest themselves at global scales.

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