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:

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.