Parasites and hosts in the mangrove wrack zone

Judith, Kate ORCID: (2018) Parasites and hosts in the mangrove wrack zone. In: Wrackzone (ALECC 2018), 20-23 Jun 2018, Victoria, Canada.


In tropical wrack zones, where sand, mud and churning fresh and salty water currents negotiate a shifting, shape-changing landscape, mangroves create worlds. A mangrove propagule uses wrack to its advantage. It falls ready-sprouted to ride the tidal flows until it touches substrate and roots itself fast before the tide rises again. There, where mangrove roots establish, all manner of floating wrack accumulates. The mangrove claims this as its own and binds it into a dynamic ecosystem. Urban mangroves are troves of condoms, plastic bottles and heavy metals. Within, fish spawn, crabs scuttle, cormorants dive; life is abundant around mangroves.
Humans and mangroves imagine estuaries differently. We are competitors for estuarine territory, so the survival of mangroves is everywhere wracked. Canal estates, shrimp and rice farms and heavy industry slash into mangroves, which, as muddy, densely vegetated, stinking places full of crawling and sucking life, are unwelcoming habitats for most humans. Over a third of the world’s mangroves have been lost in just the past 20 years and the destruction continues apace. Mangroves fight back opportunistically however, sprouting inconveniently along harbor and estate edges. They surprise both in their resilience and their vulnerability. A huge unpredicted mangrove dieback in remote Northern Australia in 2015-16 occurred in an area where mangroves faced no human competition, reminding us that mangrove futures remain at least somewhat beyond human control. But human attitudes towards mangroves are changing. Mangroves have been found to protect coastlines from cyclone damage, so humans are learning to see mangroves as companions, as collaborators against climate change. Humans are accommodating mangroves into designs, learning to love and propagate them. Or perhaps in their adaptive way, mangroves are collecting humans among their accumulating wrack.
This paper will journey into mangroves with two thinkers who have lingered in the wrack zone to feel and think what it is to territorialise there, for emergence to negotiate difference from the gaps between. This paper invites Michel Serre’s parasite to engage with Jaques Derrida’s impossible hospitality within the mangroves of the wrack zone. Two particular mangrove estuaries, one in Northern Australia, which was explored recently by Elizabeth Povinelli, and the other in urban Sydney will help situate this exploration.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Open Access College (1 Jul 2013 - 7 Jun 2020)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Open Access College (1 Jul 2013 - 7 Jun 2020)
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2019 07:47
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2020 03:39
Uncontrolled Keywords: mangrove, non-human, more-than-human
Fields of Research (2008): 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2203 Philosophy > 220303 Environmental Philosophy
Fields of Research (2020): 50 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 5003 Philosophy > 500304 Environmental philosophy

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