Life and death, sacred and secular: thinking with and beyond species in a more-than-human world 
Sophie Chao (University of Sydney)
Laura McLauchlan (University of New South Wales)
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STB 1, Science Teaching Building
Wednesday 4 December, 9:00-10:45, 14:00-15:45 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

This panel explores the value of non-secular approaches to interspecies relations in a more-than-human world. In particular, the panel examines how other-than-human entities, including monsters, ancestors, and cyborgs, inform our understanding of multispecies (after)lives, extinction and resurgence.

Long Abstract

Recent years have seen a growing call to extend the scope of anthropology beyond the human, or what Eduardo Kohn calls (2013) "an anthropology of life." This panel focuses on the epistemic, ethical, and political value of reconciling intercultural and interspecies approaches in the study of more-than-human worlds. Specifically, we seek to make space in this ongoing conversation for sacred and desacralized entities, forces, and ecologies that do not easily fit within the bios (or life)-centered focus of multispecies ethnography and other related posthumanist currents. What, for instance, can ghosts, zombies, and monsters teach us about extinction, double death, and ecological/spiritual afterlives? How do capitalist natures subvert or reconfigure existing modalities of the sacred? How might recognition of ancestral presence influence the ethics and practice of ecological care? How can an anthropology of death - and the undead - complement our understanding of multispecies lives, both precarious, ungrievable, and destructive? And how can a non-secular approach inform struggles for ecological and social justice? Our panel invites a critical rethinking of the meaning and value of the "sacred" across ecological, technoscientific, capitalist, and geopolitical contexts. We invite researchers involved in broadening anthropology through meaningful encounters and respectful collaboration with indigenous and decolonial scholars to participate, with the goal of enriching our joint effort to foster mutual learning on a planetary scale. Alongside ethnographically grounded projects, we also welcome presentations that explore the value of artistic and activist methodologies in the study of more-than-human worlds.

Accepted papers: