An ethnoecology of submerged life
David Anderson (University of Aberdeen)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines the active role that sub-surface forms of life play in the lives of laboratory scientists and circumpolar hunters. The paper will focus on the woolly mammoth thought to be extinct but who is thought to swim underground for Evenki and Dolgan hunters and reindeer herders.
Paper long abstract:
For many circumpolar Arctic peoples, life on the Earth's surface represents only one livable ecology. This paper examines the active role that sub-surface or perhaps non-tangible forms of life play in the lives of terrestrial peoples today. The paper will focus on the case of the "woolly mammoth" - or _khele_ - thought to be extinct according to traditional urban zoologists but who is thought to swim underground for Evenki and Dolgan hunters and reindeer herders. The paper will describe the encounters that hunters have had with the khele, and the folklore surrounding it. It will compare Evenki and Dolgan ways of interacting with this more-than-human lifeworld to recent proposals to retro-breed the mammoth by genetically splicing frozen gametes with contemporary elephant stock. The paper will argue that the making of tangible life, which technologies of de-extinction promise, is not necessarily the same as recreating an evocative an liveable world.
Liveability in a time of ecological destruction [Humans and Other Living Beings Network]