Talking past one another?: the place of ethnobiology in the “multi-species turn.”

Session Type: 
Session Date and Time: 
Friday, 18 March, 2016 - 10:00 to 12:00
Harvill Hall, Rm. 4
Session Organizer(s): 
Joyce Lecompte-Mastenbrook - University of Washington
Kay Lewis-Jones - University of Kent

In this session participants will explore the intersections between the “multi-species turn,” and ethnobiology's long-term, yet rarely acknowledged contributions to this emergent field of inquiry. Building on a conversation started in our organized session at last year’s SoE meetings in Santa Barbara, and in light of this year’s special JoE issue, “Botanical Ontologies,” we hope to encourage discussion on how the increasing academic and theoretical attention to nonhuman agency relates to ethnobiological research, theory and ethical commitments.

Shared concern over species loss and the increasingly precarious position of the environment have led many scholars previously unconcerned with the non-human to decentralize and challenge the privilege of the human in order to do justice to the multi-species worlds in which we live. How might the theoretical and methodological insights of these multi-species ethnographers enliven the work of ethnobiologists? Conversely, how might the theoretical and methodological contributions of ethnobiology, and the indigenous and traditional knowledge that has been the heartland of the discipline, enrich and enliven the “multi-species turn?” Why is it that we seem to be talking past one another? This session also aims to invite reflection on what the ethical implications may be for rethinking nonhuman agency and what valuable insight ethnobiologists can and should be bringing to the multispecies table.

Session format: six presentations of 15 minutes each, with 15 minutes for discussant feedback and 15 minutes for conversation with session attendees at the end.