Image: Semiotic Review Issue 1 2013 - Parasites

This issue of Semiotic Review (Guest editors Matthew Wolf-Meyer and Samuel Collins) looks to multiple sites of parasitic action, considered here both as the study of the parasitic as well as a reflections on parasitic encounters, methods and theories.

For example, the recent turn to animal studies has highlighted the interdependence of humans and nonhumans, from dogs to mushrooms, bees to yeast, cheese cultures to intestinal bacteria. But it has also revealed the relationship of humans to their nonhuman world to be one of oscillating internalizations and externalizations. In both cases, the relations of the parasite to its host unsettles our ontological assumptions about whose world is inhabited by whom, of who is the parasite of whom. Focusing upon the parasite helps us to move beyond the anthropocentrism often inherent in our theoretical conceptions of the world: parasitism is vital to life across distinctions of domain – animal, plant, bacteria, alien, machine, and onward.

The figure of the parasite provokes ruminations on the external that turn out to be internal after all, or that, at any rate, call into question the identity or the ontology of the host. So: let us ask after the parasite that inserts material into the host, that colonizes the host, that transforms the host, and think thereby about scholarship as a parasitic practice that makes and remakes its worlds through its imbrications in the very capacities of life. This issue of Semiotic Review is unified in its interests in a process, not an object. Parasitism over the parasite.

Like all thematic issues, this issue remains open to new essays and interventions.

Published: 2013-01-30