Environmental commemoration: Guiding principles and real-world cases

Mihaela Mihai*, Mathias Thaler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

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 anti-closure. 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalMemory Studies
Early online date25 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 May 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • ecological grief
  • enviromental commemoration
  • environmental loss
  • multispecies justice
  • Passenger Pigeon
  • Remembrance Day for Lost Species


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