Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing: The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (2015)

27 March 2018, dusan

“Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world—and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the northern hemisphere. Through its ability to nurture trees, matsutake helps forests to grow in daunting places. It is also an edible delicacy in Japan, where it sometimes commands astronomical prices. In all its contradictions, matsutake offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: what manages to live in the ruins we have made?

A tale of diversity within our damaged landscapes, The Mushroom at the End of the World follows one of the strangest commodity chains of our times to explore the unexpected corners of capitalism. Here, we witness the varied and peculiar worlds of matsutake commerce: the worlds of Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, industrial forests, Yi Chinese goat herders, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions also lead us into fungal ecologies and forest histories to better understand the promise of cohabitation in a time of massive human destruction.

By investigating one of the world’s most sought-after fungi, The Mushroom at the End of the World presents an original examination into the relation between capitalist destruction and collaborative survival within multispecies landscapes, the prerequisite for continuing life on earth.”

Publisher Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2015
ISBN 0691162751, 9780691162751
xii+331 pages

Reviews: Stefan Helmreich (Am Ethnologist, 2016), Eleana J. Kim (Current Anthropology, 2016), Emily Yates-Doerr (Medicine Anthropology Theory, 2016), James P. Verinis (Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment, 2016), PD Smith (The Guardian, 2017), Joshua A. Bell (Anthropological Q, 2017), William E. O’Brien (AAG Review of Books, 2018), Jason Cons (J Asian Studies, 2016), Jim Igoe (Am Anthropologist, 2016), Eugene N. Anderson (Ethnobiology Letters, 2015), Justine Williams (Transforming Anthropology, 2016), Brandon Bodenstein (Anthropology and Humanism, 2017), Hjorleifur Jonsson (Asia Pacific J Anthropology, 2017), Danya Glabau (J Cultural Economy, 2017), Carmen Victor (Culture Machine, 2017), Sian Sullivan (Dialogues in Human Geography, 2018), Frédérique Aït-Touati (Critique, 2019, FR).

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The Word for World Is Still Forest (2017)

28 August 2017, dusan

“Taking its title from Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1972 novella, The Word for World Is Still Forest curates an homage to the forest as a turbulent, interconnected, multinature.

Moving from concepts of the forest as a thinking organism to the linear monocultural plantations that now threaten the life of global forests, the volume includes an interview with anthropologist Eduardo Kohn on perspectival multinatural semiotics based on his observations in Ecuador as well as a piece by Canadian forest ecologist Suzanne Simard, with visualizations by Kevin Beiler, examining how fungi networks uptake nutrients of salmon brought from sea to river to land by grizzlies and wolves. Curator Dan Handel presents an excerpted exhibition on “wood” as a vital element of forest mythology and the driver of industrial resource management. Media designer and data curator Yanni A. Loukissas adds a series of reflections on botanical data from Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum.

An original typography of tree forms from artist Katie Holten’s Tree Alphabet reconnects the paper of the book page to its forest genealogy. Brazilian architect and urbanist Paulo Tavares contributes an annotated visual composition on Amazonian human rights violations and indigenous struggle, highlighting the hybrid literacies required by resistance movements fighting illegal logging and plantations. Shannon Lee Castleman also addresses illegal logging in her photo essay on the incremental harvesting practices in the diminished tropical forests of Indonesia, while the landscape architect Sandra Bartoli offers a little known history of the ancient trees of the urban forest known as the Berlin Tiergarten and Silvan Linden portrays a case study of Berlin’s ever-more controversial urban “wild.” The Nonuya elder and shaman Abel Rodríguez contributes an oral narrative of the Ancestral Tree of Plenty, transcribed in collaboration with the Tropen Bos International Colombia forest conservation group, alongside a series of his drawings of medicinal plants used for botanical conservation efforts. In resonance, the book also contains an essay by Pedro Neves Marques about the particularity of Amerindian images of naturecultures. Finally, the book includes excerpts of Ursula K. Le Guin’s original text, The Word for World Is Forest.”

With contributions by Sandra Bartoli, Shannon Lee Castleman, Dan Handel, Katie Holten, Eduardo Kohn, Ursula K. Le Guin, Silvan Linden, Yanni A. Loukissas, Abel Rodríguez, Suzanne Simard & Kevin Beiler, Paulo Tavares, and others.

Edited by Anna-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin
Publisher K. Verlag & Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2017
Intercalations series, 4
ISBN 9783981863505
xix+202 pages

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