University of Oulu

du Plessis, G. (2021). Invisibility, Colors, Snow: Arctic Biosemiotics and the Violence of Climate Change. Theory, Culture & Society, 38(7–8), 167–188.

Invisibility, colors, snow : arctic biosemiotics and the violence of climate change

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Author: du Plessis, Gitte1
Organizations: 1Tampere University
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: SAGE Publications, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-03-09


This article conceptualizes contemporary geopolitical violence in the Arctic through a semiotic register. Different living beings perceive different things, and these differences amount to different worlds, not merely different worldviews. Building on Eduardo Kohn’s reading of the semiotics of Charles Sanders Peirce, and theorists of biosemiotics and ecosemiotics, the article analyses how signs in and between living organisms and their environments are political matters of life and death. Via the themes of invisibility, colors, and snow, the article traces semiotic relations between different living beings and their Arctic ecologies to weave a semiotic understanding of contemporary geopolitical violence in the Arctic and the role of climate change therein. The article defines the violence of climate change as a violence of not being able to recognize oneself, and builds on Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s concept of multinaturalism to explain what it means that one world ruins other worlds.

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Series: Theory, culture & society
ISSN: 0263-2764
ISSN-E: 1460-3616
ISSN-L: 0263-2764
Volume: 38
Issue: 7-8
Pages: 167 - 188
DOI: 10.1177/0263276420976793
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 519 Social and economic geography
Funding: Research for this article was funded by the Academy of Finland (grant no. 322254), and SPARCTIC / University of Oulu.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 322254
Detailed Information: 322254 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2020.