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Can the more-than-human speak? #1 Other ways of knowing in interspecies communication

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Animal Geography Specialty Group, Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM (MDT)
Room: Virtual Track 4
Organizers: Paul Moss
Chairs: Paul Moss


Denying a voice (or even the possibility of a voice) to more-than-human beings inscribes a hierarchical and hegemonic power dynamic that has proven to be destructive and damaging to all involved – leaving the more-than-human silenced, vulnerable, and subject to instrumental exploitation while creating a sense of loneliness, disconnection, and unmooredness in humans.

Interspecies communication, even when reported, may be denatured through its being viewed solely as an artifact of metaphor, symbol, or imagination, rather than its being understood and appreciated as a real and authentic phenomenon. Those exploring purposeful and meaningful communication between humans and plants, animals, fungi, and other beings are typically expected to conduct research using only objective, rational, and scientific techniques (as conventionally defined) without evidencing anthropomorphism. These approaches arguably serve to silence more-than-human interlocutors by proscribing the use of intuition and other ways of knowing their perspectives.

Yet, in alternative worldviews, epistemologies, and cosmologies, including but not limited to those of many indigenous and animist cultures, more-than-human beings do have meaningful voices that can be perceived by humans and which have been valorized, understood, and respected for thousands of years. These voices are starting to be heard within the academy as well.

Presentations in this double session will explore interspecies communication from multiple perspectives in support of building greater understanding and appreciation of more-than-humans and their voices.

The session is sponsored by the following AAG Specialty Groups: Animal Geographies; Cultural & Political Ecology; Ethics, Justice, & Human Rights: Indigenous Peoples.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Alice McSherry*, The University of Auckland Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa New Zealand, Amba J. Sepie, University of Canterbury Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha, Aotearoa New Zealand, Speaking with Earth Kin: Plant Personhood and Healing in the Anthropocene 15 1:30 PM
Presenter Walter W Furness*, Texas State University - San Marcos, Attending to the small things: Theorizing yeast-human communicative possibilities 15 1:45 PM
Presenter Courtney Berne*, Geography and Urban Studies Department Temple University, Horsemen of the Anthropocene: Black Urban Cowboys, Resilience and Reclamations of Space 15 2:00 PM
Presenter Edward Huijbens*, Wageningen University & Research, Earthly entanglements in the Anthropocene 15 2:15 PM
Discussant Paul Moss University of Minnesota 15 2:30 PM

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