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Juno Salazar Parreñas, Assistant Professor, Cornell University
"Pronouns for an Apocalyptic Future."
Orangutan rehabilitation centers, which are a kind of wildlife center, respond to the crisis of pending extinction by offering sanctuary to displaced orangutans. These sites encourage orangutan reproduction and capitalize on species loss through the fostering of commercial encounters with the dwindling population of the world’s most solitary of all great apes, which are the only great ape found in Asia. Orangutan rehabilitation centers work as hospices for a dying species, as sites that offer terminal care for healthy individuals facing their species’ extinction. How is the imagined, shifting pronoun of ‘we’ that often references the ‘Anthropos’ of the Anthropocene not a means of diluting culpability, but a means of recognizing differentiated forms of participation, responsibility, and harm? Drawing from both social linguistics and science and technology studies, this paper highlights the power of pronouns in imagining whose lives are at risk or endangered in the Sixth Age of Extinction.