Journal Articles

June 2012 - Vol.42 / No.2
Introduction: Cetacean Nations
Author : Michael Lundblad
Keywords :
Species in a Planetary Frame: Eco-cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, and The Cove
Author : Neel Ahuja
Keywords : environmentalism, cosmopolitanism, Japan, dolphins, International Whaling Commission
This essay argues that the critical project of bringing animals into representation encounters particular difficulties in the context of the international political impasse over global environmental and animal welfare concerns. Analyzing Louis Psihoyos’ 2009 Oscar-winning documentary film The Cove, the essay contends that attempts to establish ethical and affective claims for animal life encounter a familiar tension between local and global, particular and universal, that works to contain the film’s compelling critiques of nationalism’s authorization of transpecies violence. The essay suggests instead that a more elaborated critique of both species and nation, which would emphasize the radical interpenetration of species and the transnational character of ecological movements, is necessary to undo the normative humanization of cosmopolitan political projects including environmentalism.
Animal Contact in Liu Ka-shiang’s He-lien-mo-mo the Humpback Whale
Author : Sun-chieh Liang
Keywords : Liu Ka-shiang, animal, seeing, touch, anthropomorphism, literature, science, Derrida, He-lien-mo-mo the Humpback Whale
This paper begins with a discussion of the scientifically damaging role that anthropomorphism has played in Western scientific thought, and turns to explore the ambivalent attitude that Liu Ka-shiang has always had toward science and literature. To Liu, the problematic of the representation of the animal pushes the ambivalence to its extreme, which leads to his constant anxiety. On the one hand, he has to represent what he sees, or what comes in contact with his naked eyes, and on the other hand, he knows very well the hegemonic power of seeing that shapes our worldview; it controls, manipulates, and forms the being of the object (live or not) under observation, and even such a physical experience as the sense of touch is under its control. In He-lien-mo-mo the Humpback Whale, Liu shows not only the power and horror of seeing, but more importantly, the life force of the genuine contact with the animal. Initiated by the physical touch, this animal contact, this contact with the other (animal) essentially embedded in the very being of each living creature, is the crucial point that defines the relationship between the human and the animal.
Japanese Whaling and the Language of Science
Author : Denise Russell
Keywords : Japanese whaling, International Whaling Commission, scientific whaling, moratorium on whaling, whaling research results
This article analyses the publications resulting from Japanese whaling research over the last decade to ascertain what findings have resulted, what value these findings have and whether the findings, if valuable, could be researched in other ways. The Institute of Cetacean Research in Japan funds the whaling. The discussion will revolve around what the Institute says that it is doing with the whaling programs and what the research papers actually conclude.
Beauty and the Enchanted Beast: The Narwhal (Monodon monoceros) in the Canadian Cultural Landscape
Author : Marie-France Boissonneault
Keywords : Narwhal, wildlife emblems, tradition, Monodon monoceros
The narwhal (Monodon monoceros), is an Arctic whale with an eye-catching spiralled horn which is the subject of indigenous folklore and medieval legends. This animal’s ‘horn’, or tusk, is in fact a tooth that grows to lengths upward of 9ft in males, and very rarely in females (Silverman and Dunbar, 1980; WWF, 2011). The rising temperatures in the Arctic are reported to be impacting the primary habitat of this specific marine species of the Northern hemisphere (Boswell, 2010), and there have been accounts that it is being overfished in certain Northern communities. There are historical, economic, spiritual and cultural ties related to the narwhal hunt which involve both indigenous and non-indigenous populations. The narwhal is featured prominently in the Canadian cultural landscape on both the coat of arms for the Northwest Territories (1956) and Nunavut (1999). In combining sentimental appeal with regional identity, an emblematic device that depicts a species gives rise to a sense of pride and connection. There is relevance in understanding the nature of the symbolic ascription of the narwhal as this information offers policymakers clarity on the public’s perception of the species and what specific scientific research and educational programs are necessary to ensure its conservation.
Declaring Whales’ Rights
Author : Paola Cavalieri
Keywords : whales, right to life, customary international law, ethics, culture, genocide, self-consciousness
In May 2010, at the University of Helsinki, a “Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans” was issued. Such an event can be seen as bringing to full cycle a process which, prepared by the creation in 1946 of the International Whaling Commission, and passing through the adoption of a moratorium on “commercial whaling” in 1986 and the IWC nonbinding resolution condemning “scientific whaling” in 2005, has reached its peak in the contemporary worldwide opposition to the killing of whales. Against the background of a relevant argument in International law, and in the light of recent scientific discoveries on cetacean intelligences and cultures, this essay explores the grounds for, and the implications of, the attribution of a right to life to whales.
The Asia-Pacific in Asian American Transmigration: Lydia Minatoya’s The Strangeness of Beauty
Author : Hsiu-chuan Lee
Keywords : Asian America, Asia-Pacific, transmigration, the everyday, I-story, Lydia Y. Minatoya
This paper studies the intermingling of the imagination of Asia-Pacific and the formation of Asian America. Analyzing the Japanese American Sansei writer Lydia Minatoya’s The Strangeness of Beauty (1999), which portrays the Japanese American experiences in the first three decades of the twentieth century, my reading first grounds the formation of Asian America in Asian Americans’ Pacific routes, thereby extending our understanding of Asian America to an Asia-Pacific dimension. Thereafter, I explore how Asian Americans’ trans-Pacific trajectories may help constitute an Asia-Pacific imagination embedded in the everyday materiality of this area. Specifically, my analysis hinges on a reading of the “I-story” created by the novel’s protagonist-narrator Etsuko Sone. Through an investigation of the discontinuous and relational nature of this “I-story,” I argue that The Strangeness of Beauty traces the meanderings and changes of Etsuko’s self and life. Instead of reinforcing the monolithic “I” pursued by conventional Western autobiographies, Etsuko’s “I-story,” which is indebted to the form of modern Japanese autobiographical fiction shi-sh¯osetsu, presents Etsuko as a Japanese American woman ceaselessly re-defined by the spatiotemporal multiplicities of her transmigratory experience across the Pacific. This portrayal of the Asian American “transmigratory” everyday, furthermore, retrieves “Asia-Pacific” from a EuroAmerican construction. The Strangeness of Beauty envisages Asia-Pacific as neither a mythic space of transnation nor a geo-political place constrained by the bipolarity of the East and the West, Asia and America, or Japan and the U.S. It replenishes Asia-Pacific with Asian Americans’ engagements with the connections and confrontations within and between Asia, America, and the Pacific.
Gardening Ideas across Borders: Mobilities and Sustainability in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Gardens in the Dunes
Author : Chi-szu Chen
Keywords : mobility, sustainability, travel, gardening, seed-thought
Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel, Gardens in the Dunes, is an exemplar revisionist travel narrative that reveals multiple dimensions of its genre by weaving three types of action-traveling, story-telling, and gardening—with three related themes—mobility, seeding, and healing. Through traveling, different species and ideas are disseminated and hybridized. Through story-telling, the interference or concurrence of ideas, which are complicated with related socio-political values, are dramatized in a contested way. Through gardening, seeds of plants and ideas are planted, nurtured, inter-pollinated, domesticated, and absorbed into the local ecosystem and social milieu, impacting neighboring communities. Different kinds of gardens (kitchen garden, fruit garden, botanist garden, landscape garden) are managed with diverse gardening ideals, reflecting a diversity of cultures and mobilities. The means of gardening of plants and of ideas demonstrate how sustainable ideas help to maintain sustainable communities endangered by colonial and capitalist exploitation. The stories of the transnational and cross-cultural traveling of the white and indigenous mixed blood characters across national and cultural borders chronicle the scenarios of diverse and uneven production of mobility. The crisscrossing between routes of migration and roots of acculturation constitutes a relief map of cultural survival and environmental sustainment in an endangered mobile world. With the inter-pollinated implications of travel, gardening, and story-telling, Silko offers a global vision of “interior journey” that articulates a sense of planet community and provides strategies for a sustainable community and future.