Photo by Michael Bracco.

In her contribution to the 2016 Hot Spots series on liberalism’s contemporary crisis, Andrea Muehlebach aptly and beautifully rendered our current political situation as a “time of monsters.” In the spirit of this insight and out of a desire to harness the critical and creative potentials of speculative anthropology, we at Cultural Anthropology thought it was time to start a proper bestiary for this monstrous moment.

We asked our initial set of contributors to take the idea of a bestiary seriously and to sharpen our focus on monsters by giving them names, histories, habitats, powers, and mythologies. We seek to surface the complex latent meanings of monstrum, including better known dreads and abominations but also nuances of portent, sign, and warning. Each of our contributors has generated a monstrous creature—real or imagined, wild or domesticated—that indexes some aspect of these political times. Some of these monsters are terrifying, others amusing. Some may invite love and/or understanding, while others we are right to fear and revile.

Our special thanks to the artist Michael Bracco, who created original artwork for each of the entries. You can find more of his work at http://spaghettikiss.websiteanimal.com.

Posts in This Series

Blob

Blob

The blobjective earth is nurtured by petropolitics. –Reza Negarestani H. P. Lovecraft (2014, 381) wrote: “We live on a placid island of ignorance in the mids... More

Bogeyman

Bogeyman

Kotgham from Korea Deep in the mountains, there was a small quiet village, and on the mountain behind this village lived an enormous, terrible tiger. One even... More

Daddy Knowledge

Daddy Knowledge

Did you know: the project summary should be a self-contained description of the project and should contain a statement of objectives and of methods to be employ... More

Diesel

Diesel

It’s a bit intimidating, strolling with the crowd that drifts along this narrow lane. The space is actually a parking lot, asphalt marked out with long yellow... More

Disgust

Disgust

Asifa, Alaska Contreras Ponce, Charleena Lyles, Sandra Bland. #SayHerName. A Hanging Chad, All Caps Twitter fornication with a potted plant #MeToo a child’s bod... More

Innocent Monsters

Innocent Monsters

Some get to fear monsters. Others must be them. A few years ago, a sixty-year-old white woman in France attacked another woman in niqab, calling her Belphegor,... More

Inquisitorial Reason

Inquisitorial Reason

Recent reports note that Steve Bannon (now post–Donald Trump and post-Breitbart) is setting up a think tank in Brussels, from which he plans to boost the Europe... More

Martian

Martian

Mars has long featured in Euro-American imaginaries of both civilizational and primitive monstrosity: from Percival Lowell’s canals and H. G. Wells’s War of the... More

The Sense Mother

The Sense Mother

Consumer Electronics Show, 2015, Las Vegas. The eyes of the Sen.se Mother™ glow from her cheery face, gazing out on the mammoth floor of the Sands Convention ... More

Tuil

Tuil

My name is Tuil. I am no monster. But I am becoming monstrous. I cannot say exactly when it began, but I remember the ache. That ache became agony as my skin be... More

The Wall

The Wall

There is a poem called “The Picket Fence” (Der Lattenzaun), by Christian Morgenstern: One time there was a picket fence With space to gaze from hence to thence... More

The Woozle

The Woozle

Some monsters have never been observed, not even in fiction; especially in fiction, some question their very existence. Like dark matter in physics, they are ... More