Three Extinctions and Their Figures of Future Co-existence : A Paddy’s Perspective In Mao Chenyu’s Becoming Father

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2022


Title2nd International Environmental Humanities Conference
LocationHybrid, Mustafapaşa Campus, Cappadocia University
Period16 - 18 May 2022


Where to draw the social and biological lines of extinction and how may our answers affect future modes of co-existence for all beings? Becoming Father (2020), a video by Chinese artist and farmer Mao Chenyu, unfolds the questions from a tripartite perspective of paddies. The endemic paddy in the cloistered Shennongjia forest has lost evolvability to the besieging industrial agriculture. The fate it shares with its indigenous conserver exemplifies an extinction of socioecological interactions that precedes physical deaths. Genetically engineered paddies are decoupling speciation – a mechanism crucial for plant biodiversity and flourishing – from sexual reproduction, symbolically announcing the extinction of fatherhood. Future paddies fed by biochemistry, seed coding, and automatized farming will fuse the living and the nonliving, preluding the end of biotic forms of existence. I argue that, beyond tapping into the ethics of human-induced evolutionary acceleration by thinking of extinctions, Becoming Father turns the rhetoric of annihilation into speculative frameworks for future co-existence. My presentation explores this futurity through three figures Mao summons: the neo-shaman channelling the local with the Anthropocenic, the interspecies kin assembling at the end of heteronormality and androcentrism, and the geomancer animating geological and spectral agencies in the nonliving and the afterlives of beings.

Research Area(s)

  • Agriculture technology, transgenic rice, Anthropocene necropolitics, emerging indigeneities, future imaginaries, East Asian metaphysics

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