Environmental Philosophy

Volume 5, Issue 2, Fall 2008

Species of Thought

Deborah Bird Rose
Pages 51-66

Judas Work
Four Modes of Sorrow

In this essay I examine four modes of thinking about the betrayals involved in the planned mass deaths of animals, specifically the wild donkeys of North Australia. I consider the wild, but in contrast to the positive valence this concept has acquired in environmental literature, I work with a set of negative connotations that I encountered in conversations with Aboriginal people in North Australia. I explore the wild as a form of narcissism, to use Hatley’s terminology, and I engage with animal mass deaths as an outcome of processes of disconnection and catastrophe. My analysis examines how the colonising wild is the tearing apart of the fabric of life and death on earth.