On the basis of empirical studies, this book explores nature as an integral part of the social worlds conventionally studied by anthropologists. The book may be read as a form of scholarly "edgework," resisting institutional divisions and conceptual routines in the interest of exploring new modalities of anthropological knowledge making.
The present interest in the natural world is partly a response to large-scale natural disasters and global climate change, and to a keen sense that nature matters matters to society at many levels, ranging from the microbiological and genetic framing of reproduction, over co-species development, to macro-ecological changes of weather and climate. Given that the human footprint is now conspicuous across the entire globe, in the oceans as well as in the atmosphere, it is difficult to claim that nature is what is given and permanent, while people and societies are ephemeral and simply derivative features. This implies that society matters to nature, and some natural scientists look towards the social sciences for an understanding of how people think and how societies work. The book thus opens up a space for new forms of reflection on how natures and societies are generated.
"The book is a comprehensive selection of chapters and a joy to read for anyone who is interested in social anthropology’s approaches to nature. In general, it is a thought-provoking work that offers inspiring examples on the different ways that anthropologists approach nature today. The book is also a must-read for other social scientists and especially scholars engaged in the natural sciences. It will also give policy makers in the environmental field valuable insights into their work."— Maija Lassila, Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society
1. Nature: Introducing Anthropology on the Edge Kirsten Hastrup 2. More-Than-Human Sociality: A Call for Critical Description Anna Tsing 3. Qualifying Coastal Nature: Bio-Conservation Projects in South East India Frida Hastrup 4. Engaged World-Making: Movements of Sand, Sea, and People at Two Pacific Islands Maria Louise Bønnelykke Robertson and Cecilie Rubow 5. Political Ecology in a More-Than-Human World: Rethinking "Natural" Hazards Sarah Whatmore 6. Islands of Nature: Insular Objects and Frozen Spirits in Northern Mongolia Morten Axel Pedersen 7. Establishing a "Third Space": Anthropology and the Potentials of Transcending a Great Divide Andre Gingrich 8. The Inevitability of Nature as a Rhetorical Resource Steve Rayner and Clare Heyward 9. Divide and Rule: Nature and Society in a Global Forest Programme Signe Howell 10. Life at the Border: Nim Chimpsky et al. Gísli Pálsson 11. Human Activity Between Nature and Society: The Negotiation of Infertility in China Ayo Wahlberg 12. Broken Cosmologies: Climate, Water, and State in the Peruvian Andes Karsten Pærregaard 13: Of Maps and Men: Making Places and People in the Arctic Kirsten Hastrup 14. Designing Environments for Life Tim Ingold