Anthropology and Environment Society
Abstract: Central to the emerging field of multispecies ethnography is a critique of humanism and the metaphysical privileging of the human in all aspects of knowledge production. Much has been written about the theoretical and representational difficulties of research with and within nonhuman-lifeworlds: thereby prompting calls for methodologies which not only challenge the logocentric conventions of traditional ethnography, but also go beyond merely including nonhumans in research. Yet nonhuman-lifeworlds are increasingly lived out in conditions of unprecedented exploitation and destruction, including the structural and ecological violence rendered by anthropogenic climate chaos. This suggests that posthuman ethnography has strong resonances with traditions of “engaged,” “activist” and “radical” research. Does posthuman ethnography, then, entail the adoption of an emancipatory politics for nonhuman lives? Should it? If so, how?
Utilizing examples drawn from their own interspecies research, presenters explore multispecies methods within the wider context of violence-toward-nonhumans.
What aspects of ethnographic methods, developed primarily within a modern, anthropocentric and colonizing framework, are “workable” in light of the history of violence against nonhumans? Are there particular methods which need to be jettisoned altogether?
What kinds of methods can generate genuinely ethical relationships between humans and nonhumans? Is advocacy for nonhuman welfare intrinsic or endemic to such methodologies?
There have been numerous calls within posthumanist research to “take animals seriously.” How does the context of exploitation and violence-toward-nonhumans engage with this challenge? How might adopting a politicized approach to nonhuman research impact our methodologies?