Extinction and Memorial Culture: Reckoning with Species Loss in the Anthropocene

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Hannah Stark
contact email: 

Edited by Associate Professor Hannah Stark (University of Tasmania) and Associate Professor Katrina Schlunke (Universities of Tasmania and Sydney)


Mass extinction and the diminishment of biodiversity is one of the most significant issues facing our time—a period now widely described as the Anthropocene. The 2019 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services notes that extinctions are “tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years”. Of the 134,425 species that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have assessed, 37,400 are threatened with extinction and appear on their “Red List”. In 2020 alone, the IUCN declared 31 more species extinct. How do we mark these escalating losses? What memorials are there for the extinct? What rituals mark their passing?


We invite papers which consider how we encounter and make meaning from extinction in diverse settings and cultures. In particular this collection focusses on how extinction is memorialised in museums, zoos and cultural institutions, through public acts of protest, ritual and mourning, in literature and art, and by individuals. This collection will ask: What happens after extinction? What public affects might new extinction rituals and ceremonies produce? What are the ethical, political and philosophical questions that arise when we look at the remains of extinct animals in museums? How might acts of collective mourning shape public environmental sentiment?


In an era in which species are becoming extinct at an unprecedented rate, we must find new ways to engage critically, creatively and courageously with extinction. Potential contributors are invited to consider:


  • Extinction and museum display
  • New approaches to natural history collections and the Anthropocene
  • Extinction rituals and ceremonies
  • Political acts of protest, consciousness raising and memorialisation
  • Art, affect and extinction
  • Cross-cultural and indigenous responses to extinction
  • Site-specific responses to extinction
  • Extinction narratives in literature, film and drama
  • The poetics of extinction
  • Zoo displays, extinction and conservation
  • The politics of memory, forgetting and catharsis
  • Extinction, responsibility, guilt and reckoning


Routledge has indicated initial interest in publishing this collection.


Please send enquiries and abstracts to Hannah.stark@utas.edu.au

  • 300-word abstracts and 200-word bio due: September 30, 2021.
  • Decision on abstracts by November 30, 2021.
  • 6000-word manuscripts of accepted essays due: July 31, 2022.