Composing a common world? Reflections around the ontological turn in anthropology
This thematic section engages debates about the so-called ontological turn that, since the 1990s, have tried to respond to pressing ecological and socio-political needs with intensified study of the entwined modes of identification and relationality between the human and non-human world. Taking critically some of the key theoretical insights from this line of study, this thematic section aims to probe the shifting relationships between human and non-human agents that are formed in three ethnographic contexts: the world of plants in an Italian community of anthroposophists, the digital artefacts the international world of disaster management uses in an effort to view threats to the planet and render them open to human experience, and the struggle around wind energy in southern Mexico. Plumbing the depths of rapports that human collectives have with a tangle of sensitive agents, namely plants, weather, “natural” forces and digital artefacts, the authors confront the specific political challenges different assemblages between humans and non-humans face in the cases examined. In sum, proposing an “onto-political” reading based on ethnographic practice, this thematic section examines, on the one hand, the practicality of an ontological approach in different terrains of research, and on the other, its public translatability and capacity to influence political analysis.
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