Things That Are Not Alive, but Which May Be Alive in a Certain Way: An Interdisciplinary Essay on a Relational Theory of Life

By Meredith Root-Bernstein, AgroParisTech, INRA § This blog post is adapted from a paper given at “Anthropology Off Earth,” Collège de France and l’Observatoire de Paris, 4-5 June 2019 “What is life?” is a foundational question for both biology and anthropology. It seems unavoidable if we want to ask how life emerged on Earth, what […]

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Who Is Afraid of CRISPR Art?

By Eben Kirksey, University of New South Wales § Originally published in Somatosphere A crowd-sourced Indiegogo funding campaign that raised over $45,000 for do-it-yourself gene editing kits in December, asks: “If you had access to modern synthetic biology tools, what would you create?”  This campaign, which aims to democratize science “so everyone has access,” was launched by […]

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Plantworlds in West Papua

By Sophie Chao, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia § First published in Anthropology & Environment Society’s section of Anthropology News Rejecting human exceptionalism and exploring the subjective lifeworlds and particular agencies of non-human species with whom human existence is intertwined, the multispecies turn challenges us with the possibility of biocultural hope in the blasted landscapes of the Anthropocene (Kirksey et […]

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Some Organs of My Primate Body

By Daniel Allen Solomon, De Anza College and Cabrillo College § The “monkey temple” on Jakhoo Hill in Shimla hosts a rowdy but well integrated bunch of rhesus macaques. Though the monkeys graze upon the grassy lawns at Jakhoo Mandir, and eat a variety of plant foods from the adjacent city and woodlands, they take […]

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The Multispecies Life of Feral Dendezeiros: Ethnography in Motion

By Thiago Cardoso, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil § The dendezeiro (African oil palm) makes worlds. While most people know the dendezeiro as a tree fully subordinated to human design in palm oil plantations across South America and beyond, in many parts of the world these palms transform the lives of those with which […]

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What the Seed Knows of the Soil

By Kay E. Lewis-Jones, University of Kent §   Attending to the Seed On a December afternoon in the upper west side of Manhattan, a group of people sat in a darkened room and tried to think like seeds. In their hands they held their mentors – Acer rubrum seeds from a park across the street – […]

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What Kind of People Are Plants? The Challenges of Researching Human-Plant Relations in Amazonian Guyana

By Lewis Daly, University of Oxford § “Plants feel!” “Forests think!” “Trees talk to one another!” In recent years, the topic of plant intelligence has been making the science pages of news publications with increasing regularity. Consider, for instance, November’s BBC article detailing a host of expert opinions on topics such as plant cognition and the […]

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