Arctic Domus Departmental Seminar - David Anderson
Speaker: David G. Anderson
Agency and the Ethnographic Imagination
The 'ontological turn' has reinvigorated the discussion of animism, personhood, among other classic topics in anthropology. These debates, however, never exactly return to the same origin point. The portrait of human-animal relations in many perspectivist or ANT-styled works display a radically narrow view of agency inter-preted as recalcitrance ('resistance') or as one of many homologous natures. This paper uses ethnographic examples primarily from an Evenki reindeer-herding commune in Eastern Siberia and from work with laboratory geneticists to examine how agency and intention flow in the management of reindeer estates. The paper will examine how both human intentionality and reindeer intentionality flow together into the creation of stocks, and how in turn ethnographic and laboratory techniques reduce these stocks into schemes. Given the length of the ethnographic tradition of documenting animism/agency, the paper argues for a richer ethnography of human-animal relations.
Venue: F61 Edward Wright Building