In Animate Planet Kath Weston shows how new intimacies between humans, animals, and their surroundings are emerging as people attempt to understand how the high-tech ecologically damaged world they have made is remaking them, one synthetic chemical, radioactive isotope, and megastorm at a time. Visceral sensations, she finds, are vital to this process, which yields a new animism in which humans and "the environment" become thoroughly entangled. In case studies on food, water, energy, and climate from the United States, India, and Japan, Weston approaches the new animism as both a symptom of our times and an analytic with the potential to open paths to new and forgotten ways of living.
"The complexity of these readings promotes compassion but also a richer understanding of how humanity inhabits our world. We cannot predict the new directions in which our affects may take us. Through such precarity, and the intimacies, animacies, and enchantments accompanying it, Weston reframes the debates on which the health of our animate planet depends."
– Patricia Wald, Critical Inquiry
"This sophisticated political ecology reveals how the reciprocal impacts between humans and the environment through industrial technology have become intimate and animate in unprecedented ways. The insightful analysis of cases from India, Japan, and the US are thought-provoking perspectives on the environmental resource categories of climate, energy, food, and water. Recommended."
– L.E. Sponsel, Choice
"The question that pervades the book – how can humanity deal with the paradox of being the cause of its own destruction and yet not know how to stop doing so? – is fundamentally important to the way we live in the world today, and one we struggle to look at. For this reason alone, Animate Planet is important, and to some degree a must-read."
– Stephanie Bunn, Times Higher Education
"The merit of Weston's argumentative thrust lies in consistently highlighting the affective attachments people develop towards the things that harm them [...] Positioning questions of affect and desire in this way at the heart of life in a technologically damaged world, Weston opens up a field of inquiry that is as conceptually exciting as it is politically urgent."
– Marlene Schäfers, The Cambridge Journal of Anthroplogy
"Animate Planet luminously draws out how our bodies, ourselves, our foods, our waters, our chemicals, our devices, our radioisotopes, our climate, and our planet are all animated, for good and ill, by their ecological intimacies with one another. Kath Weston brilliantly shows us that such animacies are signs of today's globally uneven spacetime and require a reinvigorated, and fully political, animism – an exciting analytic that this book dazzlingly realizes."
– Stefan Helmreich, author of, Sounding the Limits of Life: Essays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond
"Once again Kath Weston masterfully upturns the lexicon of everyday life, this time by illuminating intimacy not only as a psychic or spatial relation, but as ecologically lived. This is a humbling and beautiful book that tells stories of inescapably cohabited destruction in witty, clever, but no less tragic terms."
– Jasbir K. Puar, author of Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times
Acknowledgments. Generosity and Nothing But viii
Introduction. Animating Intimacies, Reanimating a World 1
1. Biosecurity and Surveillance in the Food Chain 37
2. The Unwanted Intimacy of Radiation Exposure in Japan 71
3. Climate Change, Slippery on the Skin 105
4. The Greatest Show on Parched Earth 135
Knowing What We KNow, Why Are We Stuck?
5. Political Ecologies of the Precarious 177
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Kath Weston is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia. A Guggenheim Fellow and two-time winner of the Ruth Benedict Prize, Weston is the author of several books, including Traveling Light: On the Road with America's Poor; Gender in Real Time: Power and Transience in a Visual Age; and Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship.