Cultural Anthropology 25(4): Multispecies Ethnography (2010)

9 February 2015, dusan

“A new genre of writing and mode of research has arrived on the anthropological stage: multispecies ethnography. Creatures previously appearing on the margins of anthropology—as part of the landscape, as food for humans, as symbols—have been pressed into the foreground in recent ethnographies. Animals, plants, fungi, and microbes once confined in anthropological accounts to the realm of zoe or “bare life”—that which is killable—have started to appear alongside humans in the realm of bios, with legibly biographical and political lives. Amid apocalyptic tales about environmental destruction, anthropologists are beginning to find modest examples of biocultural hope—writing of insect love, of delectable mushrooms that flourish in the aftermath of ecological destruction, and of microbial cultures enlivening the politics and value of food.

Multispecies ethnographers are studying the host of organisms whose lives and deaths are linked to human social worlds. A project allied with Eduardo Kohn’s “anthropology of life”—“an anthropology that is not just confined to the human but is concerned with the effects of our entanglements with other kinds of living selves”—multispecies ethnography centers on how a multitude of organisms’ livelihoods shape and are shaped by political, economic, and cultural forces. Such ethnography also follows Susan Leigh Star, who suggests “it is both more analytically interesting and more politically just to begin with the question, cui bono? than to begin with a celebration of the fact of human/non-human mingling”.” (from the Introduction)

Edited by Eben Kirksey and Stefan Helmreich, with contributions by Eva Hayward, Agustin Fuentes, Celia Lowe, and Jake Kosek.

PDF (updated on 2015-2-13)
Additional material (journal website)

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