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Jeremy Kidwell (University of Edinburgh): ‘On Killing the Little Ones: Narratives of Violence and Eradication in Bacterial Perspective’

Jeremy Kidwell (University of Edinburgh): ‘On Killing the Little Ones: Narratives of Violence and Eradication in Bacterial Perspective’


Thom van Dooren has recently drawn attention to the forms of what he calls “violent-care” as an inevitable feature of cross-species care practiced “at the dull edge of extinction.” In this paper, I place this thesis in the wider context of environmental ethics and test the possible limits of his thesis by turning towards microscopic forms of life. I draw on recent portrayals of domestic space in popular media in order to highlight the ways in which the popular imagination has been ever more intensely inundated with messages of “hygienic” eradication and warfare towards
microscopic forms of life. With this in mind, I expand on this line of reasoning by van Dooren
(and others including Deborah Bird Rose and Val Plumwood), and explore its possible limits in a
broader domain (i.e. the human disposition towards “other life”), turning to the metaphors of
“hospitality,” and “reconciliation” as possible options for cross-species relationships which may
offer a challenge to the influences of hygienic thinking which seeks to preserve a “pure” human





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