Erasure and abstraction of hedgehog extinction: Applying ecolinguistic analysis to Bayer’s 2016 Integrated Report

Mira Lieberman, University of Sheffield Management School

 

How is Bayer, a multinational corporation producing biocides, currently accounting for biodiversity and extinction?  How can extinction accounting and an extinction accounting framework (Atkins and Maroun, 2018) help mitigate the current 6th mass extinction, and the rapid decline of hedgehogs in the UK?

Taking the European hedgehog as a case study, this paper applies an ecolinguistic analysis of textual and visual semiosis (images, charts, graphs) that elicit profound ethical and political questions about animal representations, social perceptions and destruction in the form of extinction.  The emerging ecolinguistic approach aims to expose, critique and raise awareness of forms of domination and hegemonic discourses that prevent constructing a positive relationship between human and nonhuman animals (Hughes, 2018). Ecolinguistics holds that emancipation of both human and nonhuman animals can be realised not only through the deconstruction of a critique of the representation of entities in texts, but also through resistance to these negative discourses and searching for a way to reshape or reconstruct discourses that can be a useful approach in imagining social change where nonhuman animals are placed at the centre.

Specifically, this paper examines erasure, a concept following Stibbe’s (2012) three level abstraction for erasure to analyse which actors or goals are excluded from texts and other semiosis: (1) the void, where a complete exclusion occurs; (2) the mask, where erasure occurs through a distorted version of the entity excluded; and (3) the trace, where someone or something is partially erased, but elements of them are still present. The exclusion could be manifest through linguistic devices such as passives (a grammatical from such as ‘Y’ is destroyed by ‘X’ as opposed to the active voice ‘X’ destroys ‘Y’), metonymy (calling something not by its name but by something associated with it, e.g., a chicken can be called a broiler, or roaster), hyponymy ( a relationship of equivalence e.g., in the phrase fish, grains and timber, fish is a hyponym of grain and timber, represented as a resource), and nominalisation ( a noun that derives from a verb e.g., destruction).

References:

Atkins, J. and Maroun, W. (2018) ‘Integrated extinction accounting and accountability: building an ark’, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 31(3). doi: 10.1108/AAAJ-06-2017-2957.

Hughes, J. M. F. (2018) ‘Progressing positive discourse analysis and/in critical discourse studies: Reconstructing resistance through progressive discourse analysis’, Review of Communication. Taylor & Francis, 18(3), pp. 193–211. doi: 10.1080/15358593.2018.1479880.

Stibbe, A. (2012) Animals Erased. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.