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The Sentience of Sea Squirts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPalgrave Studies in Life Writing
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages34

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Life Writing
ISSN (Print)2730-9185
ISSN (Electronic)2730-9193

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

King's Authors


The earth-bound nature of much ecological thinking presents challenges for posthuman life writing in the Anthropocene: underwater subjects exist in a different element, with less knowability. Sea squirts have a cultural history featuring human-centred language; as pest, food and pharmacopeia, they are exploited for human ends. But using underwater life narrative and photography to explore conventions of looking creates different possibilities for relationships between humans and sea squirts. Aesthetic categories like wobble, swerve and atmosphere can make marine lives, even small ones, significant on their own terms and enable more attention and sentient care from humans. Combining ecopoetics and self-aware life writing can bring sentience to, for and from sea squirts—and the oceans.

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