"They Try to Change Their Worlds:" Making Worlds with Transtaxa Beings in Multispecies Communities

Date and Time: 
Friday, 18 March, 2016 - 10:00
, Cissy - Wofford College

Seaworms are magnificent tools for linking not only items in single taxonomic categories (items with ‘seaworm’ in the names, for example, or cognates for ‘seaworms’ in Austronesian and Papuan languages) but also disparate categories (for example, the link between Polycheata and Liliopsida, or between apical clan [human] ancestors and the moon).  By deeply contextualizing nale, the Kodi word for ‘seaworms’, in the space-time culture of Kodi, we find that the term refers to a category of beings who periodically switch taxonomic status and are thus transtaxa.  Describing an ethnotaxonomy populated by taxa-crossing beings provides a platform for exploring the contributions of ethnobiology to posthuman studies.  Through documenting relationships between human and nonhumans, ethnobiologists deepen and expand knowledge about habitats, ecosystems health, and the world making activities of both humans and nonhumans.  Seaworms is an amazingly poetic topic to use as the means for ethnobiologically demonstrating that all humans on Earth live in multispecies worlds.