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An ecological whodunit: Examining loss and grievability in an age of extinction

Portus, Rosamund


Rosamund Portus


In a time when immeasurable numbers of Earth’s living species are having their timelines cut short, the bee decline stands out as a crisis which people have willingly and actively engaged with. This lightning talk will therefore examine the cultural frameworks by which bees have become broadly seen as a grievable species. To do so, this talk will travel back to the root of public discourse around the ongoing loss of bees, tracing the story of the honeybee syndrome known as colony collapse disorder which caused honeybees to begin disappearing from their hives in the mid-2000s. The cause of this disappearance proved a mystery for some years, a fact which paved the way for the loss of honeybees to become framed as an ecological whodunit in the public imagination: a framing which not only encouraged the pre-emptive mourning of honeybees’ extinction, but extensive advocacy on the behalf of bee species in the years which followed. In telling this story, I will emphasise that how we respond to nonhuman species extinction is rooted as much in human histories, cultures, and values, as it is scientific fact.


Portus, R. (2021, September). An ecological whodunit: Examining loss and grievability in an age of extinction. Presented at Loss, British Animal Studies Network, University of Birmingham (Online)

Presentation Conference Type Speech
Conference Name Loss, British Animal Studies Network
Conference Location University of Birmingham (Online)
Start Date Sep 7, 2021
End Date Sep 9, 2021
Deposit Date Sep 13, 2021
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