2007 volume 25(5) pages 911 – 932

Cite as:
Lorimer J, 2007, "Nonhuman charisma" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 25(5) 911 – 932

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Nonhuman charisma

Jamie Lorimer

Received 1 May 2005; in revised form 17 August 2005

Abstract. In this paper I outline the parameters of nonhuman charisma in the context of UK biodiversity conservation. Although conservationists frequently discuss charismatic species in their professional discourse there is little existing work that explores the character of this charisma and how it operates in environmental governance. In this paper I map nonhuman charisma and explore its ontological, ethical, and epistemological implications. I first illustrate a three-part typology of nonhuman charisma, comprising ecological, aesthetic, and corporeal charisma. Exploring nonhuman agency through the lens of charisma I contribute to ongoing efforts in geography and cognate disciplines to forge a ‘more-than-human’ understanding of agency and ethics. Nonhuman charisma provides a bounded relational ontology for considering nonhuman difference. Furthermore, nonhuman charisma draws attention to the importance of affect in understanding environmental ethics. Affect provides the vital motivating force that impels people to get involved in conservation. Second, I provide an example of nonhuman charisma in action. I draw on earlier work on human charisma to explore how charismatic organisms, operating as ‘flagship species’, are mobilised as boundary objects to achieve organisation order in the assemblages of UK biodiversity conservation.

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