Reviewed by: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Anthropocene
Secondary Theme: Materiality
The aim of this roundtable is to explore possibilities for engaging and analyzing worlds beyond the “one-world world” of modernist Western technoscience using the figure of the world multiple. Worlds multiple are social-material worlds generated through quotidian practice. They draw from and subvert dominant modes of worlding associated with the modern West, and help us make sense of how people strive to make worlds living in and for. We work with the world multiple to think through the diverse forms of resistance, resilience, and adaptation that people enact in their everyday worlding practices.
The past few decades have witnessed a heightened concern over environmental issues framed at a planetary scale, such as climate change, rises in sea levels, contamination of the biosphere, and species extinctions, that have come to be known as signs of life in the “Anthropocene.” How might we join critical reflections on the violence imposed upon human and non-humans on this planet? How can we do so while maintaining a critical wariness towards the holisms conjured forth by this new planetary consciousness?
In parallel to this development, we have also observed growing attention to indigenous and traditional environmental knowledge as a way to navigate the Anthropocene. Knowledges that were previously marginalized for their “irrational” mixing of “social” and “natural” entities are now being seen as promising ways to engage the natural environment in more scientific ways. While there is an inclusive drive to make up for past epistemological discrimination and violence, the incorporation of indigenous and traditional knowledges into existing frameworks prolongs the hegemony of modern technoscientific expertise, and its basic assumption of a one-world world. We ask: how might we think beyond “incorporation,” and give heed to the interactions between modern, indigenous, and traditional forms of life?
This roundtable explores these questions by focusing on the quotidian practices through which worlds are conjured as social and material realities, that is as worlds multiple. Moreover, we attend to the multiplicities immanent in and engendered by these practices, and the politics that they embody. We especially consider the relationships between modern technoscience and other forms of knowledge and practices—described as indigenous, traditional, folk or vernacular—in peoples’ engagements with the world. To do so, this roundtable brings together anthropologists working on multispecies ethnography, ontological anthropology, and postcolonial theory to explore the world multiple as a figure for thinking beyond the “one-world world,” and make sense of the complex and multidimensional realities that people live in the current moment.