Discussing notions of extinction and their transformation since the turn of the nineteenth century, the Introduction of the book proceeds to examine the idea of existential risk and the way in which it is conceived today to derive from human “culture” and its intervention in “nature”. The Introduction proceeds by drawing the outline of the projected catastrophe known as the next pandemic and the ways in which it has been approached by anthropologists. It argues that to grasp the fascination and anxiety caused by this projected event, we need to understand its anticipated result to be not simply the biological termination of the human species but rather its loss of humanity, defined as a project for mastery. Stressing that this should be conceived as a human mastery over human/nonhuman relations rather than as human domination over “nature” itself, it argues for an anthropological treatment of pandemic-borne extinction in terms of “the pandemic imaginary”. Following the development of the concept in the work of Cornelius Castoriadis, the Introduction underlines the productive, dialectic relation lying at the heart of the pandemic imaginary as what allows the conceptualization and anticipation of a humanity after the loss of mastery as an affirmative possibility, and, at the same time, as what disallows any conceptualization of humanity as other than it is.