Making kin with a dingo named Sue: the trouble with the Chthulucene in McKay’s The Animals in That Country (2020).

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsConference Presentation


“Tell me she doesn’t know something about the world that you and me haven’t ever thought of.”
The repercussions of rising levels of ecological devastation are manifesting in an increasingly catastrophic manner worldwide, and are proving to be of grave consequence for the future of humankind; paradoxically, humankind’s destructive tendency has been expedited by an anthropocentric ideology that has shaped the characteristics of our current epoch. In an attempt to conceive new and better ways of being, Donna J. Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (2016) presents the inextricable links between the human and nonhuman, proposing that embracing a model of sym-poiesis (making with) is necessary for building a more endurable future. In this paper, Haraway’s concept of the Chthulucene will inform a close reading of the novel The Animals in That Country (2020) by Laura Jean McKay, which uses an apocalyptic vision of the future to question the boundaries between humans and the natural world. Through inhabiting the consciousness of both animals and humans, McKay’s fictional experimentation changes existing understandings of current forms of communication and explores the nature of cross-species exchanges. The complexity of the minds of animals is revealed, along with the human speciesism that has proliferated throughout the era of the Anthropocene. Finally being able to understand what the animals have to say exposes the flaws of an anthropocentric ideology, which proves a cataclysmic shock to the Anthropocene as the subsequent entanglement of human and animal experience results in societal collapse. The novel promotes empathy for the animal kingdom and a heightened consideration of the role that different species play on this earth, but ultimately humankind is shown to lack the resilience needed to participate in life outside of the Anthropocene. The failure of society to imagine alternative modes of being culminates in a rejection of the Chthulucene, as humans instead seek a return to old and familiar habits.
Period29 Jun 2023
Event titleCurrent Research in Speculative Fiction 2023
Event typeConference
LocationLiverpool, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • literature
  • chthulucene
  • science fiction
  • science fiction studies
  • Women's writing
  • Feminism
  • Humanities