Celia's Ghosts: Liminality and Authenticity in De/extinction

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


What might it mean if extinction doesn’t last forever? This thesis grapples with that question through the case of the bucardo, an endemic subspecies of ibex from the Pyrenees, Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica. The bucardo has long been an emblematic feature of the Pyrenean landscape. Hunting drove it to near extinction by the start of the twentieth century. The Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido was founded in 1918 in part to protect the bucardo, yet despite conservation efforts, the population did not recover. The last bucardo — known internationally as Celia – died in 2000. A few months before her death, she had been captured, and a frozen tissue sample was used to create a clone. In 2003 a cloned bucardo was born in a laboratory in Zaragoza. The animal died seven minutes later, yet the cloning is widely celebrated as the first ‘de-extinction’. This biological intervention unsettles numerous epistemological assumptions regarding extinction, nature, and death. In 2014, the bucardo’s story was further complicated when ecologists in the French Pyrenees released a different ibex subspecies (from central Spain). Today, these ibex occupy the same ecological niche as the extinct bucardo, raising related questions about the authenticity of ecological recovery. Combining approaches from more-than-human and spectral geographies, I draw on extensive ethnographic and historical fieldwork in Spain and France to theorise haunting as an ecological event. I consider the various spectral lives of the bucardo in the Pyrenees, variously mourned, cloned, and replicated. I explore how different groups of people understand the bucardo’s extinction, cloning, and the release of related animals as ecological proxies. The bucardo exemplifies an emergent, liminal state between the previously discrete binary of extinct and extant, which I call ‘de/extinction’. Celia’s ghosts unsettle and complicate the categories of presence/absence, life/death, and extinct/extant.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.