15th May- Value beyond humans

Today was an amazingly clear, sunny day, in contrast to yesterday (though it has just come over white and snowy again right now!). It would be all too easy to post a beautiful, postcard perfect landscape shot…but not today at least, though plenty of those have been taken! Influenced by our latest lunchtime listening (a ‘keynote conversation’ between Donna Harraway, Eduardo Kohn and Colin Dayan) human-non-human relations have come to the forefront, helped along with the goings-on of the day. On a walk to the westerly polar bear limit sign, we came across these reindeer antlers and skull near the port. Is it just a matter of time before someone decides they are valuable decorative items, or a revered memorial for a past life? Or, given that reindeer are not protected to the extent of some other species here, is this just trash?
This evening I attended quite a major event, the launch of Birger Amundsen’s book ‘Uten nåde‘ (Without Mercy) which is all about human-polar bear relations. I didn’t understand much beyond that, but it was a full house at UNIS who enjoyed hearing tales of old-timers on Svalbard and their escapades with polar bears in the 1970s. This ‘charasmatic species’ certainly captures the imagination and attention. I wonder if they can, as Eduardo Kohn pursues, ‘hold open space’ to form new, positive and hopeful relations in this time of extinction and crisis Harraway and co seek to address?

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