Can Animism Help Revitalise the Commons?

Wesleyan University,  Long Lane Farm Herb Spiral

Wesleyan University,
Long Lane Farm Herb Spiral

My travels in North America have included a fantastic visit to Wesleyan University in Connecticut where I was hosted by the College of the Environment. My colleague and main host was Gillian Goslinga who has carried out inspiring research in India and writes fascinating articles about communities that include humans, non-humans and spirits. Lori Gruen is another key figure in the Wesleyan community, and a thinker who is leading research and action in the field of human-animal studies and multispecies ethnography.  The College of Environment’s  visiting professor this year is Frederique Apffel-Marglin, whose work on local and indigenous knowledge in the face of development has helped me articulate a number of key ideas  over the course of nearly two decades. She has put her ethics and politics into practice as the founder-director of the inspirational Sachamama Institute in Peru. My curiosity and desire were totally captivated by her news of a week-long workshop she and colleagues are running in December on ‘Tantric Ecologies’. How I would love to be  part of that!!

If you have had the opportunity to hang out with inspiring people, you’ll have a good idea of what a buzz I gained from this experience. Perhaps one of the most wonderful aspects of my visit was the opportunity to learn about the student farm. A future blog will discuss Long Lane Farm in much greater detail – stay tuned!

The specific invitation that brought me to Wesleyan was the opportunity to give a keynote speech in the series organised by the College of Environment, under the heading ‘Where Are Earth Are We Going?’ With that stimulating question in mind, and in dialogue with their theme for this year – ‘Re-Envisioning  the Commons’ – I offered a speech on ‘Kinship with Nature in this Time of Loss: Can Animism Help Revitalise the Commons?’ They have very kindly posted it on the web, so here it is.

Frédérique’s brilliant speech ‘Re-imagining the Commons: Natural Resource Management or Biocultural Generation? is also online.

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