Afterword: Anthropology, the non-human and the ontological turn
This afterword has two aims: a short critical assessment of the so-called “ontological turn” in the human sciences, and a critical commentary on some of the issues raised by the articles gathered in this special issue on the anthropology of the non-human. I argue that, as underlined by all the contributors, the question of how we think about the nature of politics and power relations is crucial for any evaluation of this new “turn”. An examination of the treatment given by Descola, Latour, Viveiros de Castro and their followers to the issue of power must account for the differences among these theoretical approaches and the political implications that can be draw from each of them. However, on the whole “ontological” approaches seem to miss the complexity of factors that mediate between the ontological and the political. All the articles of this special issue deal with this issue, though ethnographic case studies concerning diverse fields of research have rarely explored till now an explicitly “onto-political” perspective. Furthermore, the articles cover a range of issues broader than those of “ontological” interest, and so contribute to linking current discussions of the “ontological turn” with other areas of the contemporary anthropological debate.
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