Perishability Fatigue

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault project is an Arctic archive designed to preserve the world’s agricultural biodiversity. What do it and other novel forms of storage tell us about our relationship to the future in a time of resource depletion and extinction scenarios? In this innovative book, Vincent Bruyere offers an invitation to look at the present we live in through a fresh lens: the difference between storage and burial in the age of sustainability science.

Perishability Fatigue considers questions of permanence and the potentiality of retrieval, noting the tensions within our collective sense of time and finitude. Bruyere reflects on the nature and meanings of perishability, asking what it means to have one’s sense of temporality engendered by seed banks and frozen embryo storage, genetically modified organisms and the “de-extinction” of species, nuclear-waste repositories, oncology, and palliative care. He draws attention to the scripts and scenarios that mediate our relations to loss and decay, preservation and conservation, emphasizing the inequalities implicit in technologies of perishability, which promise continuity in the future to some while refusing it to others. A highly interdisciplinary study, Perishability Fatigue reframes the environmental humanities and humanistic inquiry into sustainability science by developing a new language to commemorate fatigue and transience in a culture of preparedness and survival.


Related Publications and Talks

2018      “Myrrha’s Prayer.” American Comparative Literature Association Annual Conference, Los Angeles.

2015      “The Lived Exemplarity of HeLa: A Matter of Lifedeath.” Mosaic 48/4 (2015): 126-138.

2014      Paroles en l’air : Climate Change and the Science of Fables.” Diacritics 41.3 (2013): 60-79. [Special issue on Climate Change Criticism edited by Karen Pinkus. Other contributors: Frances Ferguson, Richard Klein, Timothy Morton, Allan Stoekl, Srinivas Aravamudan].

2013    “The Survivability Project.” Penn State University, Lecture at the Center for Global Studies.