A new approach to writing culture has arrived: multispecies ethnography. Plants, animals, fungi, and microbes appear alongside humans in this singular book about natural and cultural history. Anthropologists have collaborated with artists and biological scientists to illuminate how diverse organisms are entangled in political, economic, and cultural systems. Contributions from influential writers and scholars, such as Dorion Sagan, Karen Barad, Donna Haraway, and Anna Tsing, are featured along with essays by emergent artists and cultural anthropologists.
Delectable mushrooms flourishing in the aftermath of ecological disaster, microbial cultures enlivening the politics and value of food, and emergent life forms running wild in the age of biotechnology all figure in to this curated collection of essays and artefacts. Recipes provide instructions on how to cook acorn mush, make cheese out of human milk, and enliven forests after they have been clear-cut. The Multispecies Salon investigates messianic dreams, environmental nightmares, and modest sites of biocultural hope.
Introduction / Eben Kirksey, Craig Schuetze, and Stefan Helmreich
Part I. Blasted Landscapes
1. Hope in Blasted Landscapes / Eben Kirksey, Nicholas Shapiro, and Maria Brodine
R. A. W. Assmilk Soap / Karin Bolender
3. Blasted Landscapes (And the Gentle Arts of Mushroom Picking) / Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, for the Matsutake Worlds Research Group
Part II. Edible Companions
Interlude. Microbiopolitics / Heather Paxson
Recipe 1. Plumpiñon / Lindsay Kelley
Recipe 2. Human Cheese / Miriam Sumin
Recipe 3. Multispecies Becoming / Eben Kirksey
Recipe 4. Bitter Medicine is Stronger / Linda Noel, Christine Hamilton, Anna Rodriguez, Angela James, Nathan Rich, David S. Edmunds, and Kim TallBear
4. Life Cycle of a Common Weed / Caitlin Berrigan
Part III. The Age of Biotechnology
5. Life in the Age of Biotechnology / Eben Kirksey, Brandon Costelleo-Kuehn, and Dorion Sagan
6. Invertebrate Visions: Diffractions of the Brittlestar / Karen Barad
7. Speculative Fabulations for Technoculture's Generations / Donna J. Haraway
Eben Kirksey is a permanent faculty member in Environmental Humanities at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Global Architecture of Power, also published by Duke University Press.
- Karen Barad
- Caitlin Berrigan
- Karen Bolender
- Maria Brodine
- Brandon Costelloe-Kuehn
- David Edmonds
- Christine Hamilton
- Donna J. Haraway
- Stefan Helmreich
- Angela James
- Lindsay Kelley
- Nathan Rich
- Dorion Sagan
- Craig Schuetze
- Nicholas Shapiro
- Miriam Simun
- Kim Tallbear
- Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
"Shines a valuable light on the crucial but understudied question of human relationships with non-human beings."
– Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database
"Eben Kirksey's wonderful new volume is an inspiring introduction to a kind of multispecies ethnography where artists, anthropologists, and others collaborate to create objects and experiences of great thoughtfulness and beauty. [...] This is a volume that I will be returning to, recommending, and assigning for years to come."
– Carla Nappi, New Books in Science and Technology Studies
"[A]n instant academic hit. Bringing together the voices of many exciting and innovative artists and scholars, the book advocates a radical decentering of anthropocentrism; one surpassing in scope and complexity the reorientations already operated by animal studies over twenty years."
"Through insouciant writing and art making, multispecies ethnographers push, poke, glean, and poach ideas to confront received wisdoms. What 'microbiopolitical entanglements' are possible, they ask, given 'that 90% of the genetic material in "us" is "not us"' and instead belongs to individual and community biomes? 'Genre-bending' topics range from the Rural Alchemy Workshop making soap from human and she-ass milk to harvesting delectable mushrooms in the 'blasted landscapes' of thoughtlessly plundered environments and the glories of common weeds to the serpentine symmetries of brittle stars. Patricia Piccinini's multispecies sculptures interleave the essays in ways that some will find provocative and others distressingly – yet appropriately – unsettling. [...] Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."
– A. F. Roberts, Choice
"Everything about The Multispecies Salon is unusual, arresting, and thought-provoking [...] The editorial team have done a wonderful job – the diversity of thinking, writing and artistic output is formidable."
– M/C Reviews
"The volume in general is a fascinating read, and although the contributions have grown out of an art exhibit that evolved as it traveled from San Francisco to New Orleans and later to New York City, the book works well on its own and can already be regarded as a core work"
– Jon Henrik Ziegler Remme, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
"What's more revolutionary than contemplating the rights and interconnectedness of plants, animals, fungi, even microbes – and then aspiring to a more expansive post-humanist society? This collection's contributors include such radical thinkers as Karen Barad and Donna Haraway. Reading it, my heart enlarges and my mind breaks free of its ruts."
– Lydia Peelle, The Week
"The Multispecies Salon develops a conversation around the possibilities for multispecies thinking and, as the text argues, we can harness these multispecies relationships to inform epistemological projects that work through nature/culture/social crisis. The nuanced arguments in each article forge exciting pathways toward a modest hope that, however encouraging, would seem to require greater political organizing to generate social change. However, the anthology's willingness to push, poach, and creatively practice its critical politics surrounding disaster landscapes, pathogens, and ethics makes the multispecies methodology so resonant for our tumultuous environmental, political, and social times that often lack hope."
– Samantha Ashton Hogg, Canadian Journal of Communication
"This timely anthology offers a substantial and engaging introduction to the field of multispecies studies, clearly presenting the core concepts of an important and influential area of scholarship, which will become increasingly central to anthropology, science studies, environmental studies, and social theory. At the same time, The Multispecies Salon is in many ways an art book. It features an extraordinary range of remarkable art projects, which are fascinating in their own right and beautifully written up."
– Sarah Franklin, author of Biological Relatives: IVF, Stem Cells, and the Future of Kinship
"The Multispecies Salon is an ambitious, important book, an excellent read, full of energy and imagination. I teach art and anthropology courses, and this volume will be a key pedagogical text for me. I am certain that The Multispecies Salon will also be an attractive text in science studies, environmental anthropology, and cultural studies courses. It's an enthralling collection."
– George Marcus, coauthor of Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary