Drafts of the below papers have been completed and are awaiting publication. Please get in touch if you’d like to see any of them.
Snail trails: A foray into disappearing worlds, written in slime
For Animal Remains (an edited collection by Sarah Bezan and Robert McKay)
Hawai’i’s terrestrial snails are disappearing, and with them the complex lifeworlds of their kind. While the perceptual, social, and behavioural lives of most invertebrates are rarely given much attention by many of us, the slime trails that snails leave behind provide a particularly rich pathway into these places. This chapter is an effort to take these silvery remainders seriously. Structured around a narrative account of a visit to a snail exclosure—a fenced conservation area in the Waianae Mountains on the island of O’ahu—the chapter is a foray into the lives of snails, paying particular attention to the way in which their social and spatial worlds—their umwelten (after Uexküll)—are quite literally slimed into being. As Hawai’i’s snails face growing challenges to their continued survival, attending to slime may provide some fragile possibilities for ongoing life, opening up new avenues for both conservation and appreciation.
Drifting with snails: Extinction stories from Hawai‘i
For Maritime Animals (an edited collection by Kaori Nagai)
The Hawaiian Islands were once home to one of the most diverse assemblages of terrestrial snails found anywhere on earth. Today, the majority of these species are thought to be extinct and most of those that remain are threatened. This chapter explores this context of loss, asking what it means and why it matters that so much of Hawai’i’s rich snail diversity is disappearing. It does so, however, through a focus on one very particular question: how did a global centre of terrestrial snail diversity end up out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Snails, after all, are not commonly known for their propensity to undertake long journeys—not by land, and certainly not by sea. So, how did they all get to this most remote oceanic archipelago? Equally as importantly at our present time, how might these ongoing extinctions be understood differently if we pay attention to snail voyages across vast oceans, both literal and temporal? What might this context help us to see, appreciate, and perhaps hold onto?
The disappearing snails of Hawai‘i: Storytelling for a time of extinctions
For Kin: Thinking with Deborah Bird Rose (an edited collection by me and Matthew Chrulew, Duke University Press)
This chapter offers a series of stories about the extinct and imperilled land snails of Hawai’i, woven together around questions of knowing and relating, of wonder and mystery. Inspired by Deborah Bird Rose’s extinction stories, and our decade of collaboration on this theme, it is an effort to take up some of the many strands of this loss: to mourn and bear witness, but also to celebrate what has been and might still be. At the heart of this chapter are two seemingly unrelated questions: how did all these snails make their way out to the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean in the first place, and how are we to understand traditional Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) stories of singing snails? In both cases, I argue, these snaily questions invite us into a world that exceeds our capacity to know it definitively.