Home » Anthropocene » Interesting links: First half of 2014 (2) – Anthropology, ontology and the Anthropocene

Interesting links: First half of 2014 (2) – Anthropology, ontology and the Anthropocene

This is a second post on interesting links I bookmarked in the first half of 2014 – all about anthropology, ontology and the Anthropocene.


I enjoy being reminded what anthropology is about; in the words of Ruth Benedict: “The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.”

I have bookmarked quite a few Tim Ingold activities. The first is an article in the Journal of Ethnographic Theory, called That’s enough about ethnography! Tim states in the abstract: “Ethnography has become a term so overused, both in anthropology and in contingent disciplines, that it has lost much of its meaning. I argue that to attribute ‘ethnographicness’ to encounters with those among whom we carry on our research, or more generally to fieldwork, is to undermine both the ontological commitment and the educational purpose of anthropology as a discipline, and of its principal way of working—namely participant observation. It is also to reproduce a pernicious distinction between those with whom we study and learn, respectively within and beyond the academy. Anthropology’s obsession with ethnography, more than anything else, is curtailing its public voice. The way to regain it is through reasserting the value of anthropology as a forward-moving discipline dedicated to healing the rupture between imagination and real life.”

Tim Ingold and Gisli Palsson edited a collection of anthropological essays on human life as becoming – out in 2013 – called Biosocial becomings: Integrating social and biological anthropology. Read the book review by Kim Ward in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.

Tim also talks about anthropology beyond humanity. And there is the plenary debate (at IUAES 2014 conference) involving him on humans have no nature; what they have is history. [As an aside, if you do not follow Jeremy Schmidt’s blog, called The Anthropo.Scene, do so – this is just one of many awesome links he posts regularly.]

Ontology and Anthropology

Much have been made recently about the ontological turn in anthropology – see the posting abut three types of pluralism, and read the interview with Michael W Scott about ontology and wonder.

On the blog Struggle Forever! is a blog posting on What ontology does for my anthropology. Jeremy Trombley highlights the following as what ontology does for his anthropology:

1) Ontology shifts my focus from texts to practices.

2) Ontology forces me to acknowledge the heterogeneity of existence.

3) Ontology makes me recognise the social, cooperative aspects of things.

4) Ontology makes me attentive to my own practices and the kinds of relationships that they compose.

Ghost on London undergroundImage source: http://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/1qb2pr/how_london_deals_with_ghosts/

The Anthropocene

The new journal The Anthropocene Review is an inter-disciplinary journal on research relating to the Anthropocene.

Watch Elizabeth Povinelli talk about the four figures of the anthropocene.

Not directly related to the Anthropocene, but related to thoughts I have re natural-social sciences articulation, read a short synopsis of a conference called Circling the square, organised by the University of Nottingham’s Science, Technology and Society research group.


2 thoughts on “Interesting links: First half of 2014 (2) – Anthropology, ontology and the Anthropocene

  1. Ontology would be the good things you say it is if it were like what’s on the sign in that picture. That’s not what it is.

    There is only one world, and climate change is ruining it for everyone. Ontology, as the anthropologists are actually using it, is just the latest excuse for denying science and replacing it with religion.

    When people reify religious myths from our own cultures, we rightly chew them out for denying the world. But when they reify religious myths from other cultures — or rather, crude translations of them — we congratulate them for being able to see worlds other than our own.

    In other words, we think our cultures are the only ones capable of believing something false. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s still ethnocentric!

    The problem is that you define science as something peculiar to the “West”. The “West” is an economic, not cultural, empire. Science is a basic human activity; all cultures do it. Most cultures, however, don’t separate it from other forms of knowledge such as religion. The reason most cultures coexist peacefully with their environment is because they figured out how, scientifically! Anthropologists don’t think it’s science because they’re not familiar with the metaphors. Still not familiar; that’s inexcusable. How would you like it if someone not familiar with our cultures make a list of English metaphors and did ontology on them?

    “They stand on an altar made of diamond and summon bat spirits to carry the ball through the air. And the people watching them eat dog meat.”

    Now! How does that feel???

    • Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment collin237. My sense is that your comment might elicit discussion if your comment is specific about arguments in the blog posting. I do not recognise how your comment relate to any argument made in the blog posting – in fact, no argument it made in the posting; it simply contains a listing of links I find interesting (I don’t even say much about why I found them interesting).
      Further, most blog writers appreciate and respond to engaging comments, rather than accusatory ones that are based on generalisations. The tone of your comment closes down conversation before it even could start. What a pity!
      See our urging regarding comments on our blog: https://50shadesofevidence.wordpress.com/comments/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s