Eben Kirksey is a permanent faculty member in Environmental Humanities at UNSW Australia and a Visiting Research Scholar at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the editor of The Multispecies Salon and the author of Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power, both also published by Duke University Press.
Parasites of Capitalism
Departing from a failed attempt to speak for another species (the fringe-toed foam frog), this chapter considers the diverging values and obligations shaping relationships in multispecies worlds. As people articulated competing visions of nature on the borderlands of Palo Verde, multiple social and ecological worlds went to war. The haunting specter of capital joined the fray—animating the movements of cattle, grasses with animal rhizomes, rice seeds, and flighty ducks. Amid this warfare, the fringe-toed foam frog was just one tenacious parasite, a noisy agent eating at the table of another, which began to flourish in worlds designed with the well-being of others in mind. Cattails, charismatic birds, and a multitude of insects began interrupting human dreams and schemes. Final solutions to the problem of living with parasites failed in Palo Verde. Humans and parasites, who became paraselves of one another, maintained an abiding presence in the landscape.