Monthly Archives: June 2014

Model Organisms

Species that serve as fables of naturalism today are called model organisms. Their significance lies in the lessons that can be wrought from them regarding other species, even onto big meaning questions about “life itself.” These are not forms of … Continue reading

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Drawing the line tw tamed and untamed

Pigeons are a staple character in figuring interspecies exchanges across the line between domesticated and untamed in Aesop’s tales. Used as snares, by a bird-catcher, tamed pigeons are chastised by captured wild ones—“being of the same race, they should have … Continue reading

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Fables as Cultural Form

Aesop’s Fables are cultural forms that circulate through a variety of mediums, surfacing or lying just out of sight in a host of contexts. Analyzing cultural forms requires foregoing the assumption they’re transparent—as in the hope of reading the social ideology … Continue reading

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Species thinking

Dipesh Chakrabarty uses the phrase “species thinking” to characterize a major twist in social theory. This is a mode of thinking that takes humanity-as-species for its object: a shift from the condition of “species being” as invoked by Marx, towards … 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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Doubling terms, like “native”

In thinking critically about the capacity of “native” to refer both to plants and people—or of terms like “diversity” to shift from botanical to managerial discourse—it is easy to focus on the role of metaphors—words that transposes one well-known domain … Continue reading

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