Hiding its own terms: naturalism and the invention of identity
Paper short abstract:
Given the centrality of productive / reproductive thinking to the culture-nature dyad, a route through well known questions about the European Enlightenment underlines the point that changing ways of thinking about reproduction -- and kinship -- were part of an evolving concept of ‘nature’.
Paper long abstract:
If one is looking for diverse anthropologies, one is also looking for diverse biologies, and thus for diverse approaches to the reproduction of life. Some notions of 'symbiosis', for example, point to forms of generation than involve cross- species interdependency. Starting with the centrality of productive / reproductive thinking to the Euro-American culture-nature dyad, this paper picks a route through some well known questions about the European Enlightenment in order to underline the point that changing ways of thinking about reproduction -- and kinship -- were part of an evolving concept of 'nature'. With that came a great interest in the 'identity' of things, a freshly minted elaboration of medieval ideas of substance and essence. The English precursor to the Enlightenment in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, and the mark it left on the English language, bids us to look again at European (and other forms of) animism. The paper can do no more than pose the question of what kind of anthropologies one might find there. Nonetheless, English-speaking anthropologists might not be so perplexed about the future of the nature-culture dyad if it turned out after all to be less than foundational to their enterprise.
Multiple nature-cultures and diverse anthropologies (CLOSED)