Category Archives: Nonhuman cultures

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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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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A Cultural Anthropologist Reads A Life Science Journal

This morning, chasing down a lead about research on plant memory from an article published in The Economist, I ended up at the journal Oecologia. This trajectory is increasingly familiar: a news source renders a popular account of life science … Continue reading

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Nonhuman Gardeners (ants, for instance…)

When looking for culture among nonhumans, it’s not “meaning” that matters so much but the capacity to care for (to domesticate) other species: to render them plastic and mutable, rather than the fixed types we often imagine natural objects to … Continue reading

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They make us who we are

Another approach to the question of nonhuman culture begins not with considering how they might do what we do too, but rather with the recognition that our version of culture was largely developed entirely through engagements with or attention to … Continue reading

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What is a garden?

In The Wild Life of Our Bodies, biologist Rob Dunn characterizes the appendix as “a Zen garden of microbial life.” This metaphor arises in his discussion of changing medical views about this strange organ’s function—doctors shifted from seeing this “dangly … Continue reading

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“artificial selection”

Domestication is a good reminder that the life forms Darwin relied upon, first to glimpse and then to articulate, the theory of evolution were ones subject to “artificial selection.” Pigeons, dogs, cabbages, and horses—all identified as “races” by Darwin—were the … Continue reading

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Domestication

It is hard to get “beyond the human” when we reside in the Anthropocene—that geological age characterized by the massive transformative (and perhaps imperiling) effect humans have had on the planet. An urge impelling much multispecies work is to somehow … Continue reading

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Innovating and imitating nonhumans

In the decades since the idea of nonhuman cultures was broached, the notion has taken hold through recognitions that they also learn and transmit social knowledge. As Andrew Whiten and Kevin Laland et al explain, the presence of “social learning” … Continue reading

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Nonhuman Cultures

Did you know, they have it too, culture? Not everyone does—that is, not all species are social, and the notion of nonhuman culture is not widely shared. But the evidence of cultures “beyond the human” is copious and growing, though … Continue reading

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