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Addressing the political implications of the ever-accumulating destruction of ecosystems and more-than-human life, this paper asks whether and in what ways environmental losses should be publicly commemorated. Our answer is two-pronged. First, we hold that a politics of environmental commemoration would enfranchise those who are already grieving, by lending legitimacy to their experiences. Moreover, commemorative practices might prompt much-needed norm change by nurturing a recognition of our species’ entanglement with the more-than-human world. Second, we programmatically introduce five principles that should guide environmental commemoration, ethically and pragmatically: multispecies justice, responsibility, pluralism, dynamism, and anticlosure. A critical examination of two real-world examples – the memorialization of the passenger pigeon’s extinction and the annual ritual of the Remembrance Day for Lost Species – substantiates our theoretical argument. Finally, the paper engages with several potential criticisms.
Mihai, M., & Thaler, M. (2023). Environmental commemoration: Guiding principles and real-world cases. Memory Studies. https://doi.org/10.1177/17506980231176037