How to stay with the trouble: Spartina invasion and management in the tidal flats of the Yellow Sea Article

Choi, YR. (2023). How to stay with the trouble: Spartina invasion and management in the tidal flats of the Yellow Sea . 2(3), 311-328. 10.1177/26349817231184397

cited authors

  • Choi, YR



  • Spartina is known as a globally invasive coastal plant, which has recently emerged as a troublesome intruder in the Yellow Sea. By grabbing sediment, surviving in harsh conditions of changing salinity, and eventually turning tidal flats into salt marshes, Spartina in China and South Korea is imagined to be a “tidal flat killer,” which must be eradicated promptly and completely. Yet, in what sense does it kill and, in turn, become killable? Also, is eradication the best management strategy to control Spartina and, ultimately, to protect tidal flats? This paper interrogates these questions by thinking through the notion of “staying with the trouble,” which I interpret as a provocative call for a situated multispecies ethic. Rather than taking its invasive status for granted, I examine the situated contexts in which Spartina became a trouble plant and, moreover, criminalized as the destroyer of tidal flats, a nature that has received multiple international conservation recognitions over recent years. Rather than its destructive effects, I also attend to the productive effects of Spartina in terms of producing new knowledges about coastal ecologies and imagining the Yellow Sea as one transnational ecological entity. Based on these findings, I argue that the policy focus on elimination reduces the complex coastal dynamics endangering tidal flats into a matter of Spartina management although accepting the plant as a resident is complicated. The case of Spartina in the Yellow Sea exemplifies the value of a willingness to stay with the trouble, while also illustrating its dilemma.

publication date

  • September 1, 2023

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 311

end page

  • 328


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