Multispecies entanglements in a land of fire

Gavin Smith, Zoei Sutton, Elisa Armstrong

Research output: Other contribution


Australia, of course, is no stranger to bushfires and dryness. However, the sheer scale of the 2019-2020 ‘Black Summer’, certainly the most devastating and extensive on record with some 18.6 million hectares of land burnt, drew far more national and international attention than other years, with an enhanced emphasis placed on how nonhuman animals were impacted. A recent preliminary report produced by 10 Australian scientists and commissioned by the Worldwide fund for Nature estimates that approximately 3 billion animals (including mammals, reptiles, birds and frogs) were either killed, displaced or adversely influenced, by this socio-ecological catastrophe. Of course, this focus on animal victimhood should not overlook the tremendous and far-reaching ecological damage caused by the fires and corresponding ash/smoke pollution to the delicate flora, waterways and environmental atmospheres, and of course, to the health (broadly defined) and profile of the nation. While the long-term ecological implications on both nonhuman and human animal lives won’t be known for some time, as sociologists working on multispecies research, there are some notable patterns emerging around the dynamic relationality of the various non-human entities and agency that constituted this crises: in terms of the interconnectedness of carbon emissions, mineral extraction, land clearing and urbanisation, capitalism, fire, smoke, drought, nonhuman animals and Internet-driven mediatisation. Rather than focus on the politics and circumstances of fire causality, we will instead look at some of the salient biosocial troubles and implications arising from the Australian bushfires as they relate to the condition, status and figuring of fire-entangled non-human animals.

Appears in TASA's blog, Nexus.
Original languageEnglish
TypeBlog post
PublisherTASA - The Australian Sociology Association
Number of pages6
Place of PublicationParkville, Vic
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • black summer bushfires
  • wildlife loss
  • nonhuman animals
  • multispecies
  • wildlife conservation


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