Anthropology/STS Event (Tue, May 26): Eduardo Kohn


On Sylvan Thinking

When: Tuesday, May 26th from 12:10 – 1:30 PM

Where: SS&H 1246 (STS/CSIS Room)

Lunch provided. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

Eduardo Kohn is the author of "How Forests Think. Toward a Anthropology beyond the Human," winner of the Bateson Prize in 2014.

Kohn’s research is concerned with human-animal relations and the implications that the ethnographic study of these can have for rethinking anthropology. The empirical context for this work is his ongoing long-term research on how the Quichua (Quechua) speaking Runa of Ecuador’s Upper Amazon inhabit the tropical forest and engage with its beings. Analytical frameworks that fashion their tools from what is unique to humans (language, culture, society, and history) or, alternatively, what humans are commonly supposed to share with animals are inadequate to the task of understanding these sorts of engagements in a way that is both faithful to the multiple species involved and to the historical context of their interaction. By contrast, Kohn turns to an embodied and emergentist understanding of semiosis—one that treats sign processes as inherent to life and not just restricted to humans—as well as to an appreciation for the many sorts of pattern-generating processes that mediate our relations to the world and to the other beings that inhabit it. In the process, he hopes to move anthropology beyond “the human,” both as analytic and as bounded object of study.

Kohn’s attempts to come to terms with these multi-species interactions have led him to develop what he calls an “anthropology of life,” that is a kind of anthropology that situates all-too-human worlds within a larger series of processes and relationships that exceed the human.

This event is sponsored by Science & Technology Studies (STS), the Center for Science and Innovation Studies (CSIS), and the Department of Anthropology.