Multispecies Salon 3: SWARM


1:45 p.m.-5:30 p.m., Saturday November 20th

New Orleans Sheraton, Grand Ballroom A, 5th Floor

Marnia Johnston, "Paranoia Bugs." October 10, 2010.

Organized by:

S. Eben Kirksey (CUNY Graduate Center)

Stefan Helmreich (MIT)

An emerging cohort of “multispecies ethnographers”, who are treating biologists, nature lovers, and cultural critics as key interlocutors, will gather together at the upcoming AAA conference in New Orleans. The audience is invited to join a live discussion that will orbit around recently published and forthcoming articles. The Multispecies Salon 3 will be grounded in a special issue of Cultural Anthropology—a cluster of essays about “The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography” that will be published in November 2010. The audience is invited to join the discussion as provocateurs and “poachers”—to delve into the below texts, bringing snippets to the AAA to help animate our collective conversation.

“What does it mean to “poach” another person’s paper, especially an unpublished one?” ask members of the Matsutake Worlds Research Group in their anecdote about poaching. The English word “poach” is related to the French word pocher, to push or poke with a finger or pointed instrument, to pierce. “Poaching is a way of pushing or poking pieces of ones research towards that of another,” suggests the Group, “something of an offering; not an encroachment but a gift.” Rather than conventional scripted conference presentations, authors will poach each others papers at the Multispecies Salon in a collaborative intellectual adventure.

The special issue of Cultural Anthropology consists of five essays:

Eben Kirksey & Stefan Helmreich. 2010. The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography. Cultural Anthropology 25(4).

Agustín Fuentes. 2010 . Naturalcultural Encounters in Bali: Monkeys, Temples, Tourists, and EthnoprimatologyCultural Anthropology 25(4).

Celia Lowe. 2010. Viral Clouds: Becoming H5N1 in Indonesia. Cultural Anthropology 25(4).

Eva Hayward. 2010. FingeryEyes: Impressions of Cup Corals. Cultural Anthropology. 25(4).

Jake Kosek. 2010. Ecologies of Empire: On the New Uses of the HoneybeeCultural Anthropology 25(4).

In addition to this special issue of Cultural Anthropology, a swarm of multispecies ethnographers and allied scholars will also offer up their recently published or forthcoming essays for discussion at the AAA panel:

Eduardo Kohn. 2007. How Dogs Dream: Amazonian Natures and the Politics of Transspecies Engagement. American Ethnologist 34(1):3-24.

Heather Paxson. 2008. Post-Pasteurian Cultures: The Microbiopolitics of Raw-Milk Cheese in the United States. Cultural Anthropology 23(1):15-47.

Shiho Satsuka. 2009. A New Form of Collaboration in Cultural Anthropology: Matsutake Worlds. American Ethnologist 36(2):380-403.

Thom van Dooren. 2011. Vultures and their People in India: Equity and Entanglement in a Time of Extinctions. In “Unloved Others: Death of the Disregarded in the Time of Extinctions”, special issue of the Australian Humanities Review, vol. 50, May 2011.

Eben Kirksey. 2011. From Rhizome to Banyan. In Freedom in Entangled Worlds. Forthcoming—under contract with Duke University Press. Preprint of chapter available on request:

Jonathan Marks. 2009. What is the Viewpoint of Hemoglobin, and Does it Matter? History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences. 31: 241-262.

Astrid Schrader. 2010. Responding to Pfiesteria piscicida (the Fish Killer): Phantomatic Ontologies, Indeterminacy, and Responsibility in Toxic Microbiology. Social Studies of Science 40(2):275–306.

Charles Zerner. 2010. "Stealth Nature: Biomimesis and the Weaponization of Life," in Ilana Feldman and Miriam Ticktin (eds) In the Name of Humanity: The Government of Threat and Care (Duke University Press).

Alexei Yurchak. 2008. Necro-Utopia: The Politics of Indistinction and the Aesthetics of the Non-Soviet. Current Anthropology 49 (2):199-224.

Paige West. 2005. Translation, Value and Space: Theorizing an Ethnographic and Engaged Environmental Anthropology. American Anthropologist 107 (4): 632-642.

Jacob Metcalf. 2008. Intimacy Without Proximity: Encountering Grizzlies as a Companion Species. Environmental Philosophy 5(2):99-128.

Matei Candea. 2010. “I Fell in Love with Carlos the Meerkat”: Engagement and Detachment in Human-Animal Relations. American Ethnologist 37(2):241–258.

Myrtle von Damitz III, "Ichabod." October 10, 2010.

Supplementing our usual fare of text and talk, this event will also involve artists who have been invited to make biotactical interventions.

Mark Koven (UNC Asheville) will join the panel as a poacher and will also illuminate our discussion with his bioart involving microbial companions.

A curatorial collective, a swarm of sorts, has reached out to renowned artists in New Orleans, across the United States, and around the world. Artifacts and organisms are also are also on offer from “wild artists”—environmental advocates, school children, community organizers, and scholars who do not all have recognizable art credentials. Pushing Joseph Beuys' famous decree—"You are all artists"—beyond human realms the Multispecies Salon 3 art show is also framing microbes, insects, and plants as creative agents.

For more information about the art exhibit, visit the Multispecies Salon website.