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Maxime Miranda in Minimis: Reimagining Swarm Consciousness and Planetary Responsibility
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay explores Swarm Consciousness in relation to the novels Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Remembering Babylon by David Malouf, and the manga Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki. Through these novels, Swarm Consciousness can be reimagined in order to challenge the ways insects have previously been considered in literature. Swarm Consciousness is originally a concept from biology that explains the self-organizing systems of social insects such as for example bees or ants. Previously it was believed that these insect societies consisted of a great majority of mindless drones that were governed by a central authority, most commonly envisioned as a queen.

However, if we base our vision of Swarm Consciousness on the more recent understanding of insect self-organization it is possible to challenge this rigidly divided traditional perspective into one that instead has the potential to give rise to visions of new and more creative interactions between humans and insects. These interactions are not limited to an in-group, out-group mentality, but Swarm Consciousness can be used to imagine interactions between groups, irrespective of their species identity. Due to this shift towards a more decentralized perspective, it is possible to create a new way of imagining the umwelt, as Jakob von Uexküll would define it, the unique environment, of vastly different creatures. The limits of the umwelt can be breached with the aid of Swarm Consciousness and create new possible forms of interspecies imagination. However, these intimate interactions surpass the individuals involved and create opportunities for glimpsing a wider planetary perspective which gives rise to an increased sense of planetary responsibility. Thus, Swarm Consciousness challenges both how we can think, but also who we can think with and, as a consequence, opens up new ways of perceiving unique and individual worlds, as well as the entire planet.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 55 p.
Keyword [en]
Swarm Consciousness; insects; science-fiction; Jacques Derrida; umwelt; Jakob von Uexküll; Mitchell Tomashow; eco-criticism; planetary responsibility; Robert A. Heinlein; David Malouf; Orson Scott Card; Hayao Miyazaki
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-117997OAI: diva2:818445
Available from: 2015-06-18 Created: 2015-06-08 Last updated: 2015-06-18Bibliographically approved

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