Storying Extinction: Connecting Creativity and Ecology
Rosamund Portus is a final year PhD student at the University of York. Her research is rooted in the genre of extinction studies. She specifically examines how the ongoing loss of bees has been invested in, narrated, and challenged through the creative arts sector. Rosamund has previously published papers on rewilding projects and the use of soundscapes as a tool for climate change communication. Her upcoming publication considers how the decline of honeybee populations became framed as an ecological whodunit.
As people become increasingly concerned about environmental issues, creative projects which grapple with environmental topics have begun to take a central role in the creative arts sector. This, in turn, has prompted debate regarding the role that creative exploration might play in shaping environmental crises. Responding to this knowledge, my paper specifically considers the role of creativity in shaping extinction events. To examine this, I draw on research conducted with creative practitioners whose work responds to the loss of bees. In recent years, the world has been enriched with creative projects inspired by bees’ decline: the topic has been engaged with in novels, performances, works of fine art, and more. I illustrate that creative practitioners play a critical role in narrating and bearing witness to stories of nonhuman loss. I further show that, by drawing on creative methods to tell stories of loss, creative practitioners are uniquely well-placed to deepen peoples’ connection with threatened species in non-intrusive ways, make ecological conversations more inclusive, and connect storytelling with direct conservational action. I therefore suggest that, in order to transform the narratives and actions around extinction crises, it is vital to encourage creative practitioners to engage with processes of nonhuman loss.