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How to Interview a Plant: Step 4, Description.

What am I looking at? This question, posed time and again, grew more difficult to answer each passing hour. I was surprised that I did not become bored and that there was so much to see and think about in … Continue reading

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How to Interview a Plant: Step 3, Reflexivity

Paradoxically, my confidence that this is indeed ethnography increases as my anxieties multiply. They are all ones I recognize as common to fieldwork. First, I worry, ‘What if my site is uninteresting?’ What if nothing happens here? What if no … Continue reading

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How to Interview a Plant [cont.]

Second Step: Find a location; identify subjects. On my return to Spain in 2013, I start out in the botanical garden in Valencia. Where would be the best place to try this out? I have two requisites: sufficient shade and … Continue reading

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Powerful Species

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[comments for the 2015 AAA Roundtable: Force and Power in the Anthropocene: Muse Words,  by John Hartigan] The Anthropocene posits a very powerful species, one whose presence has registered even on the densely slow scale of the Earth’s geology. But … Continue reading

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How To Interview a Plant, part 1

  Over the course of my fieldwork on botanical gardens in Spain, I began worrying I wasn’t paying enough attention to the plants and that I would only end up analyzing representations. Acting on this concern led me to seek … Continue reading

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Teach with Leech (guest post, book review by Laura Stark)

In 1799, on a long march across Egypt, Napoleon’s army quenched its collective thirst with water that, soldiers later learned, was filled with little stowaways. En mass, soldiers’ throats and bellies swelled; few ate or slept; they vomited; several died. … Continue reading

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Urban Multispecies

The Washington Post is reporting on recent research by entomologist Emily Hartop (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles), who just identified 30 new species of flies in a survey of backyards and gardens in LA. That’s a stunning quantity in … Continue reading

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Life Histories (of nonhumans)

Rooting around among accounts of nonhumans—as I regularly do in listening to my biological anthropology colleagues and, more widely, in the pursuit of multispecies ethnography—I was surprised to come across “life history” as an analytic. My associations with the term … Continue reading

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The Whiteness of Pets

In racial analysis, the focus is predominantly on dynamics of othering or dehumanization. This draws into view how police officer Darren Wilson clearly saw a monster—“like a demon” or “Hulk Hogan,” not speaking, just making “a grunting, like aggravated sound”—rather … Continue reading

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Multispecies vs Anthropocene

What just happened in Anthropology? In the 2013 annual meeting there were zero abstracts or paper or panel titles featuring the word “Anthropocene”; this year there were 64! Compare that with “multispecies,” which has held steady at between 16-23 invocations … Continue reading

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