Day 4

Multispecies Relations

A Provocation on Convivial Solidarities
Keynote Address by Annu Jalais

‘Meet the Farmily’: Interspecies Relatedness as a Politics of Conviviality and Conservation on Australian Heritage Breed Farms
Catie Gressier
University of Western Australia

Wild life and wild death: Conviviality and the necropolitics of rewilding
Edda Starck
Georg-August-University Goettingen

Symbiotic futures: Examining changes in the microbe/human relationship in agriculture
Holly Brause
New Mexico State University

Between conflict and conviviality: Human-wildlife encounters and the political animal geography of land development
Sören Köpke
University of Kassel

Caring for nonhumans beyond nature-culture dualism: Elephant conservation, mahoutship labour, and multispecies entanglements in Sumatra, Indonesia
Lubabun Ni’am
Wageningen University & Research

Thanks to Dana Powell, Alyssa Paredes and Piers Locke for acting as  Discussants for this panel.

Piers Locke's response.

Alyssa Paredes' response.

To respond to the Presentations, leave a reply in the comments section below.
If you would like to include an audio or visual reply, email this to before October 9.

This stream is chaired by Sita Venkateswar.

Comments 12

  1. How convivial to be able to engage, as a discussant, in conversation with panelists and other discussants. Appreciate this generative format.
    Discussant Alyssa Paredes’ point that there can be “no romanticization” in these multispecies/convivial efforts resonates with my own reading of and comments on these papers. This is an important intervention of this panel, as it pushes back on oversimplifications of human-animal relations or kinship theories; the emphasis across the papers (and in Paredes’ comments as well as my own) on the realpolitik of “wolf politics” for example, or rewilding, or livestock farming, requires a reckoning with death/dying/killing (to sustain) that is politically urgent and central for projects of conviviality.

    1. Thanks Dana for initiating discussion and highlighting the important threads. I wonder whether connections can be forged with some of the key points from Bram Buscher’s provocation about exclusion, the making and unmaking of limits and the ethics of exclusion. Transposed to the presentations and arguments in this panel, could we draw from there to usefully further our thinking here?

    2. Thank you so much to Sita and Serena for bringing everyone together, and to Dana for your evocative and thoughtful commentary on this fascinating panel (and the other presenters and discussants… sending all the convivial vibes!). This morning in my teaching we were discussing Lisa Heldke’s excellent paper ‘chomping all the way down’, which beautifully evokes the need to reckon with the centrality of parasitism, eating, killing etc on a whole different scale again.

      Dana, in response to your more specific (and super helpful, incisive and interesting) questions on my paper… Briefly, the question of how Carsten’s work might fit industrial models is fascinating. Reading Alex Blanchette’s Porkopolis certainly made me realise that some of the assumptions I had around human-animal relations in such contexts were far from accurate, and that relations of care and intimacy were in some instances unexpectedly enhanced by the confinement context and productivist breeding practices, despite the bleak, and (as you note) often far from convivial context. Nonetheless, a lot of the small scale farmers I’ve come to know certainly advocate for dismantling large scale operations, while growing the number of small scale farms, taking control back over the means of production and radically reducing supply chains etc. Their answer to the question of whether it is possible to scale up heritage breed (and more broadly regenerative/agroecological) farms to meet the needs of the population would be a resounding yes; though, with the caveat that meat consumption should be reduced significantly per capita in countries with high consumption rates like Australia, while issues around the profound amount of food waste must be addressed. Regarding what more can be learned from Indigenous Australian kinship systems, I’m looking at precisely this question at the RAI anthropology and conservation conference next month, but I think, following Plumwood, that the instrumentality/respect relation that arguably characterises ‘Western’ perspectives of human-non-human-animal relations are not shared generally by Indigenous Australians to my knowledge. Finally, among those farmers with an agroecological bent, many do integrate native fauna, including predators, into interspecies relatedness. A fascination for predatory birds in a pig farmer, who has lost piglets to wedge tail eagles along with foxes etc; and a huge respect and admiration for snakes in a cattle farmer who lost a dog to a tiger snake are two examples that immediately spring to mind. Love of animals and nature tend to motivate their persistence in a vocation that is often difficult to make a living from, and that love tends to extend beyond the domestic to the wild. As one further e.g., on a local poultry page, I was very interested last week to note that a post about the famous Collins St Peregrine Falcon chicks attracted more ‘likes’ by a long shot than I had ever seen on a poultry post, which I thought was interesting. Thanks again, Dana! Much appreciated!

    3. Dana, just spotted this post on my FB feed and was struck by the ways the framing of this announcement resonates with our discussions here.

      “ It’s really important to me that these cattle have good lives and deaths so please enquire only if you intend to homekill or breed then homekill. I’ve reduced their price to help enable this. They’re all in great condition.”

      See this link for more:

  2. Now that this panel is open for public discussion I want to respond to Annu Jalais’ wide ranging provocation addressing Convivial Solidarities. She starts with her doctoral work in Sunderban that squarely positions her thinking within the multispecies space and then extends into a broad arc, encompassing the political contingencies of life, academic work, civic engagement and the spaces for emergent and continuing collective solidarities within increasingly authoritarian regimes of the Global South.

    How might convivial thinking enable different understandings of the conditions of possibilities and problematics of life and survival signalled by Annu Jalais? I was struck by the ongoing discussions between Alice Beban and Nicolette Larder on the Day 2 page and the nuances and distinctions between care and conviviality, that drew on Puig de la Bellasca’s work. But to consider the affordances of care or conviviality seems to suggest a kind of socio-political or democratic safety net that is increasingly frayed or absent from the locations Annu is speaking about.

    How to think about the provisions of conviviality then, when life, livelihood, speech and survival is placed at risk?

    1. I am also reminded of an Eduardo Galeano quote: “Many small people, in small spaces, doing small things, can change the world”! 🙂

      On that note, I will await more responses.

    2. A restatement of query above: How to think about the provisions of conviviality then, when life, livelihood, speech and survival is placed at risk across species?

  3. I really enjoyed the talks and the discussions. It is truly enlightening and in some ways comforting to see the empathy and critical eye with which the various presenters are engaging with our entangled worlds. Thank you Sita and the PERC team for putting all this together.

    I have a few comments inspired by the words of our presenters and discussants and also a couple of questions.
    First, I feel Annu Jalais makes a power appeal to the erosion of democratic avenues in the face of authoritarian aspirations of the state-corporation chimaera in India. This is evident across various facets of political and cultural life in the region. However, I would like to add that the Anthropocene has many have rightfully pointed out, weaponized colonial environmentalism, to usher in a machinery of tools and proposals that address the demands of an algorithmic environmental governance. This reaction to the rise of a post-truth society has come at the cost of complicated plurality of human and non-human relationships. So, even though heavy handed neo-extractive policies of the state-capital nexus represent the obvious aggressor, the insidious materialization of the ‘climate emergency’ and ‘techno-fix mandates’ have emerged fortified with a global solidarity of white middle class environmental tools such as afforestation, recycling, veganism etc. to further dispossess marginalized communities. I think in our exploration of just multi-species futures, the solutions to the Anthropocene ‘problem’ need to be interrogated and radically examined and often challenged, especially when the third axis of the state-market superstructure, science, is often held up as salvation. I wonder if conceptual provocations like the many ‘scenes’ from plantation onwards, are politically equipped to address the needs of the emerging sacrifice of communal autonomy, stewardship and agency, for a ‘decarbonized’ or ‘sustainable’ or ‘climate proof’ future?

    Second, the re-wilding ‘experiments’ and the dialogue surrounding its emergence is both fascinating and terrifying. To begin with, ‘Wilderness’ or ‘wildness’ as a conceptual or material entity is highly questionable. The entangled human-nature worlds that have historically produced most wildness is well explored in scholarship and the recent PNAS publication by Fletcher et al ( is yet another reminder of the ‘shackles of wilderness’. Given such analysis, it is surprising that ‘pristine or first’ nature still underlies much thinking about land management. In most settler and colonized spaces, indigeneity and its supposed traits have created a bewildering set of rules and regulations around what is deemed a ‘valid’ landscape. And the necropolitics Edda Starck mentions seems to be the throughline of historical and current engagements with landscape management. Rewilding in many ways reflects the problematic engagements with plurinationalisms, biculturalism or multiculturalism currently underway in various parts of the globe. I also see echoes of ‘scenario projections’ both forward and backwards, again made popular by computer adapted systems and algorithmic truth telling, driving such aspirations of how we want our spaces to look like. Finally, there seems to be ‘taxonomic bias’ driving so much of our land management applications, where in, important species are identified based on their ‘nativity’ or ‘productivity’ or ‘crisis aversion potential’ and they are protected and inserted into spatio-temporally artificial regulatory and territorial pieces. And, autochthonous communities have also been bullied to produce ‘taxonomic lists’ which name certain species as more important or of significant cultural value. This whole exercise ongoing across various parts of the world seems to be simultaneously focussed on saving supposedly vital taxa and also recreating a distant past as an act of reconciliation or maybe to write off the sins of colonization, whatever the goal, it seems the focus is on creating hierarchies of importance within our multi-species worlds and denoting the best possible world to aspire for, as if such clarity exists, or more importantly is just.

    Finally, I found many of Alyssa Paredes comments to be particularly insightful and useful in thinking through some of this. Her comment on spirits is spot on, as others like Radhika Govindrajan are making a powerful case for spectral justice. The point about private property is absolutely vital in re-thinking our landscape futures and how the project of pursuing certain forms of relationality or futures is being pursued. The buying, selling and ownership of land by a powerful elite is probably the main engine driving the trauma of our broken world. Without addressing questions of land ownership and actually, supporting and facilitating the return of this land to its rightful owners, this all seems like an intellectual exercise, and all our theorizations simply floating conceptual flotsam rooted nowhere, leading to no emancipations. Finally, the idea of understanding that the category of human itself is not well defined is such a critical one. The dialogic and material juggernaut of the Anthropocene constantly threatens to reduce us to certain identities that best help its reproduction. Identities like ‘species’ or ‘nationality’ do immense disservice to the historical negotiations that members of such identities have been involved in for a long time. And, yes, if the pursuit of one form of justice comes at the cost of another, it seems moot, that the pursuit itself is unjust.

    I apologise for this long comment and thank you for this opportunity to share some of my thoughts and I hope to hear and learn from more such wonderful presentations.

    1. Wow, Ritodhi, there is so much in your post, such a rich array of issues, scholarship and contemporary politics you point towards, I wish there could be an entire panel to engage with them all! Thank you for raising these eloquent critiques for everyone to engage with here, most pertinently questions of justice. Thanks also for the link to the PNAS article, very timely and useful here and for tomorrow’s session as well.

  4. Thinking about the wonderful presentations of Edda, I wonder to what extent the entangled regimes of care and control are about the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion Bram was talking about?

  5. Hello All,

    I want to extend a huge thank you the discussants of this multispecies panel: Dana, Alyssa, and Piers. Thank you for the time you devoted to deeply listening to the presentations, for providing such thoughtful verbal and written feedback, and for pointing us towards new directions and new connections in our work—what a gift! I look forward to further pushing and refining my ideas for publication with your feedback in mine. I will especially look forward to finding ways to center analyses of power, and to further develop the temporal nature of the multispecies relationship I described.
    In response to Alyssa’s question about symbiosis being the norm or developing under very specific conditions – I would say that yes, the biological sciences are showing more and more that symbiosis is the norm (there is a beautiful description of this in McFall-Ngai’s 2017 “Noticing Microbial Worlds: The Postmodern Synthesis in Biology” in the book Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet). So many biological functions, from digestion, development, and reproduction would not be possible without symbiotic relationships in the natural world. What is changing and developing out of this distinct moment and from particular conditions is the growing recognition of the existing symbiotic relationships with microbes in my field site (and beyond), and the desire to cultivate symbiotic relationships, even if it is for the purpose of enhancing agricultural production. I hope that helps to clarify, and I would love to keep the conversation going!
    Again, my sincere gratitude to all of the discussants, panelists, and organizers. What an enriching event to be a part of!

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