Accepted Paper:

Insect magnetism  


Stéphane Rennesson (EHESS-CNRS)
Emmanuel Grimaud (CNRS)

Paper short abstract:

Despite the fact insects and human beings can’t share any mental images, representations nor joint frame of attention, the beetle fighting in Northern Thailand shows they can yet cooperate on the basis of a magnetic field that carries signals that remain hardly interpretable and whose effects are unstable

Paper long abstract:

How can we, human beings, coordinate actions with animals? As such, the Rhinoceros beetle fighting scene in northern Thailand explores a puzzling technique of bringing together human and animal action. We intend to show through the study of this game that some cases invite us to specify our understanding of the notion of cooperation. What can the breeder-players share with their beetles called locally kwaang? Representations? Mental images? Probably not. A common context of attention or something like that? The answer to this question is far from being self evident because the partners of the game don't share the same perceptive and cognitive abilities, the same "umvelt" after the expression of Jakob Von Uexküll.

Nevertheless, amateurs agree on the fact that if the kwaang can't be really tamed, but since they are sensible to vibration one can however try to enhance their fighting potentialities and to guide them by tactile means during the fight. The Rhinoceros beetles finally prove to be profoundly ambiguous animals, at the same time remarkably obedient and nervous as they can alternatively be easily controlled and escape suddenly the fighting device elaborated by humans. In order to decipher the logic at stake behind the kind of vibratory field elaborated and maintained by the players and their insect, we shall draw on enlarged theories of communication that evades semiotic interpretations that seems inappropriate.

Panel IW005
Phénoménographies du doute (FR or EN)