UWTSD lecturer’s letter about human relationships with rocks trees and other sentient


UWTSD's Dr Penelope Dransart's letter about human relationships with rocks trees and other sentient beings is featured in The Guardian.

Paul Kingsnorth urges us to follow the poet Robinson Jeffers in “unhumanising” our views, to open our (human) minds “from ourselves” (The call of the wild, Review, 23 July). He presents an inspiring list of novels to help us to acknowledge the sentience of other beings. Many ethnographers also help us to gain precious insight into other ways of thinking. From the 1930s Alfred Irving Hallowell adopted the phrase “other-than-human persons” in his exploration of relationships between entities such as rocks and humans among the Northern Ojibwe (Canada) and how these sentient others reveal themselves to people. More recently, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro has been urging us to exchange perspectives not only with other human beings whose intellectual traditions differ from the “artifact[s] of western individualism” discussed by Kingsnorth but also with other sentient beings of the cosmos. In what he calls perspectival multinaturalism, Viveiros de Castro argues there is no one undifferentiated state of “nature” as western orthodoxy would have it. Eduardo Kohn’s How Forests Think is an example of an ethnography that dissolves human and non-human categories. He set himself the task of understanding the existence of forests as an emergent process in which human and non-human beings engage in making and communicating signs to each other.
Dr Penelope Dransart
Reader in anthropology and archaeology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

For more information about The Faculty of Humanities at University of Wales Trinity Saint David visit: http://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/humanities-performingarts/about-the-faculty/