Non-human ‘labor’: the work of earth others

Barron, E.S.
J. Hess

Environments and ecosystems around the world support human life, culture and basic needs in myriad ways. Indeed, the ‘labour’ of non-humans, or Earth Others, as we refer to them here, is hugely diverse. But ecological descriptions of Earth Other interdependencies demonstrate that rethinking labour to build sustainable futures should not be a purely human-focused project. Much of the work that keeps our planet going has nothing to do with humans. We humans benefit from it but it is not for us. Today a growing dissatisfaction with an exclusive focus on human livelihoods at the expense of planetary livelihood has created a demand to attend to non-human labour and the work it does. In this chapter we explore the work Earth Others do. What does it look like? How is this work exchanged and distributed? How is it accounted for and valued? And what difference does it make to talk of non-human ‘labour’?

Suggested citation

Barron, E.S. and Hess, J. 2020. “Non-human ‘labor’: the work of earth others.” In: The Handbook of Diverse Economies. Gibson-Graham, J.K. and K. Dombroski, eds. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. Pp. 163-169.