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Multiple Sea Snails: The Uncertain Becoming of an Alien Species

From: Anthropological Quarterly
Volume 87, Number 1, Winter 2014
pp. 59-91 | 10.1353/anq.2014.0013



It has become common to consider “invasive alien species” one among the five most important “direct drivers” of change in biodiversity and ecosystems worldwide. However, the sea snail, Rapana venosa, introduced to the Black Sea is not only an “alien” but also a resource and an animal with particular meanings from a Muslim moral standpoint. I employ a relational ontology approach to discuss how the sea snail’s multiplicity interacts with concerns about “biodiversity,” notions of nativeness, and material agency in enacting different sea snails and the relations among them. I demonstrate that the biodiversity perspective has had very little impact on enactments of the sea snail and has not absorbed concerns about “alien species.”

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