Can We Have a Moment, Please?

The Potential of Multiple Perspectives on Beekeeping and Pollinators

June 7, 2017

Daksha Madhu Rajagopalan and Emily Elsner (Adams)

A Mini Research Moment: Social Science and Pollinator Declines

Honey bees and pollinators have been a core environmental news item in the English-speaking media for the past five to eight years: dying of mysterious illnesses, affected by pesticides, and as generally responsible for the production of many fruits and vegetables on which we rely. Honey bees in particular have had a long, close relationship with people, something often forgotten in the flurry of crises and new discoveries. However, their increasingly frequent presentation alongside polar bears and glaciers as emissaries of environmental collapse and human destruction means it is important to consider both the biological/ecological and the social when discussing honey bee and pollinator declines (Harries-Jones 2009; Mathews 2011). However, bridging this divide can be challenging—and we’d like to know how to do it more effectively.


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Working With, Part II

On the Work of Collaboration in Coastal Alaska

February 10, 2016

Karen Hébert with Danielle DiNovelli-Lang

“Please join me and stand with the bears!” So ends a recent e-mail I received from an environmental organization campaigning to curtail old-growth logging in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. The Tongass is the United States’ largest national forest and encompasses most of the land in Southeast Alaska. In November, the US Forest Service released a draft of a proposed amendment to the current Tongass management plan, whose ninety-day comment period extends through February 22.1 According to the message in my inbox, written by a wilderness advocate and bear-viewing guide, the draft amendment includes some important provisions to protect prime salmon habitat and forest livelihoods but leaves bears out in the cold. The proposed plan sacrifices the “bears’ necessities” to continued old-growth logging in the Tongass, the e-mail contends.

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Working With

April 15, 2015

Danielle DiNovelli-Lang with Karen Hébert

One of the ways my professors in graduate school modeled the nebulous territory of contemporary anthropological ethics was to consistently refer to their incalculably diverse ethnographic subjects as those whom they “work[ed] with.” This was instead of referring to things they “work[ed] on,” but also instead of the perhaps disingenuous word “interlocutors” (Said 1988) or the clandestine suggestion of “informants”—all words and phrases that were and are still very much in circulation in anthropological texts and classrooms. The ready appeal of using the phrase “working with” is that it allows us to rhetorically sidestep the problem of the object, to step down from above or over from across to take up a position alongside another. The less-than-ready appeal of the phrase is that it renders radically indeterminate if not just plain absent the content of the work to be done. When I was a graduate student planning my first field study, this situated indeterminacy of “working with” afforded me the patience I needed to stay with the unexpectedness of fieldwork and to “slow down” (Stengers 2005) the rationalizing impulse of my thinking when it was inevitably confronted with something that disrupted my theoretical purposes. I still believe and teach my students to believe in this radical openness that characterizes the best, and perhaps most enduring, face of our somewhat tortured discipline.

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