The Multispecies Salon

The Multispecies Salon

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 86 photographs (incl. 10 in co Published: October 2014

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Art and Visual Culture, Science and Technology Studies

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 Lowenhaupt 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 nascent life forms running wild in the age of biotechnology all figure in this curated collection of essays and artifacts. 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.

For additional materials see the companion website:

Contributors. Karen Barad, Caitlin Berrigan, Karin Bolender, Maria Brodine, Brandon Costelloe-Kuehn, David S. Edmunds, Christine Hamilton, Donna J. Haraway, Stefan Helmreich, Angela James, Lindsay Kelley, Eben Kirksey, Linda Noel, Heather Paxson, Nathan Rich, Anna Rodriguez, 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.” — Antennae

“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


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Price: $27.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Eben Kirksey is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Deakin University in Australia. He is the author of Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Global Architecture of Power, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction / Eben Kirksey, Craig Schuetze, and Stefan Helmreich 1

Part I. Blasted Landscapes

1. Hope in Blasted Landscapes / Eben Kirksey, Nicholas Shapiro, and Maria Brodine 29

R. A. W. Assmilk Soap / Karin Bolender 64

3. Blasted Landscapes (And the Gentle Arts of Mushroom Picking) / Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, for the Matsutake Worlds Research Group 87

Part II. Edible Companions

Interlude. Microbiopolitics / Heather Paxson 115

Recipe 1. Plumpiñon / Lindsay Kelley 122

Recipe 2. Human Cheese / Miriam Sumin 135

Recipe 3. Multispecies Communities / Eben Kirksey 145

Recipe 4. Bitter Medicine is Stronger / Linda Noel, Christine Hamilton, Anna Rodriguez, Angela James, Nathan Rich, David S. Edmunds, and Kim TallBear 154

4. Life Cycle of a Common Weed / Caitlin Berrigan 164

Part III. Life and Biotechnology

5. Life in the Age of Biotechnology / Eben Kirksey, Brandon Costelleo-Kuehn, and Dorion Sagan 185

6. Invertebrate Visions: Diffractions of the Brittlestar / Karen Barad 221

7. Speculative Fabulations for Technoculture's Generations: Taking Care of Unexpected Country / Donna J. Haraway 242

Acknowledgments 263

Bibliography 271

Contributors 289

Index 295
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