Anna Tsing's research while affiliated with University of California, Santa Cruz and other places

Publications (40)

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Anna L. Tsing is professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Tsing’s work brings together many different contexts relevant to the natural sciences, environmentalism, political economy, anthropology, and philosophy (to name a few). Tsing was awarded a Niels Bohr Professorship at Aarhus University in Denmark to explore many...
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While calls for interdisciplinary research in environmental contexts are common, it often remains a struggle to integrate humanities/qualitative social sciences insights with those of bio-physical approaches. We propose that cross-disciplinary historical perspectives can open new avenues for collaboration among social and natural scientists while e...
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This article experiments with combining three concepts— coordination, assemblage, diagram—to make vivid the composition of a satoyama forest in central Japan. The forest comes to life as a more-than-human assemblage that emerges through coordinations established by evolutionary and historical accommodations to life cycles, seasonal rhythms, and act...
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As industrial processes leave much of the planet in ruins, novel encounters are emerging. To study weedy succession in a former brown coal mining area in Denmark, as part of the Aarhus University Research on the Anthropocene (AURA) project, the authors undertake field observations over time and propose renewed attention to natural history. In this...
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Livability is never an exclusively human issue; like all other life forms, we can only live successfully by living together with others. The set of environmental problems evoked by the term Anthropocene has created threats to more-than-human livability. This chapter explores the consequences of modern ecological simplifications, as these threaten t...
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This assessment of the field explores a confluence of feminist thinking about the 20th-century Great Acceleration in the United States: post-World-War II projects of modernization made the security of white nuclear families global models of well-being, while banishing the work of their securitization to non-white sacrifice zones—which eventually ca...
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Combining video and performance-oriented text, this genre-bending o-pei-la is a multispecies enactment of experimental natural history. Our players consider the golden treasure snail (kim-pó-lê; Pomacea canaliculata and relatives; golden apple snail), first imported to Taiwan from Argentina in 1979 for an imagined escargot industry, but now a major...
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To take the concept of the Anthropocene seriously requires engagement with global history. But what ‘global’ shall this be? In honour of the work of Marilyn Strathern, this essay explores that planetary Anthropocene composed of fragments that do not fit together at all, and yet necessarily do. At the centre of my concerns are the awkward relations...
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A post–World War II Japanese business model has changed the cultural production of capitalism globally. Instead of a drive for uniformity, difference is a resource for the supply chains that have come to dominate Asia—and the world. This article offers a pocket history of the model's emergence and explores its implications for the (non)management o...
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How might one responsibly review a field just coming into being—such as that provoked by the term Anthropocene? In this article, we argue for two strategies. First, working from the premise that the Anthropocene field is best understood within its emergence, we review conferences rather than publications. In conference performances, we glimpse the...
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Skylore is too often seen as necessarily archaic: reconstruction is the mode of thought most appropriate for its study. Reconstruction posits completion: it removes inconsistencies and gaps – evidence of present day deterioration in essentially antique formulae. Here we discuss the production of skylore as an ongoing process. We highlight the inter...
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How might Strathernian comparison extend anthropology beyond human exceptionalism? This essay explores how a fungal spore might guide attention to more-than-human nature. The exercise allows us to reflect on knowledge tools we use for understanding human as well as nonhuman social relations.
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Far from being a self-enclosed system, capitalism is unable to create most of the skills, relations, and resources it needs to function. Capitalist accumulation depends on converting stuff created in varied ways, including photosynthesis and animal metabolism, into capitalist commodities. Capitalist commodities thus come into value by using—and obv...
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Far from being a self-enclosed system, capitalism is unable to create most of the skills, relations, and resources it needs to function. Capitalist accumulation depends on converting stuff created in varied ways, including photosynthesis and animal metabolism, into capitalist commodities. Capitalist commodities thus come into value by using - and o...
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What if those translations across difference that characterize global supply chains were to inspire a model of power and struggle in the contemporary political economy? In contrast to the unified Empire offered by Hardt and Negri, supply chains show us how attention to diversity—and the transformative collaborations it inspires—is key to both ident...
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Because computers zoom across magnifications, it is easy to conclude that both knowledge and things exist by nature in precision-nested scales. The technical term is “scalable,” the ability to expand without distorting the framework. But it takes hard work to make knowledge and things scalable, and this article shows that ignoring nonscalable effec...
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The term friction is derived from descriptions of the physical world, where it refers to the resistance to relative motion between bodies in contact. Considerations of friction entered studies of globalization as a counterpoint to stories of “friction-less” transnational flows of goods, ideas, people, and money. Such stories were popular in the 199...
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A wheel turns because of its encounter with the surface of the road; spinning in the air it goes nowhere. Rubbing two sticks together produces heat and light; one stick alone is just a stick. In both cases, it is friction that produces movement, action, effect. Challenging the widespread view that globalization invariably signifies a "clash" of cul...
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Studying Science With the AntsFrom Scallops to MushroomsMarginal WorldingsImplicit WorldingWorlding at the EncountersThe Uses of DisorientationReferences
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Supply chain capitalism forages among the ruins of military and industrial landscapes—and so do real foragers, such as Southeast Asian refugees picking wild mushrooms in the US Pacific Northwest for commercial shipment to Japan. This essay explores how supply chain dynamics thrive on deregulation and diversity, encouraging cultural and ecological v...
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Experiments in collaboration open new investigative possibilities for cultural anthropologists. In this report, we use our research on matsutake mushrooms to show the promise of collaborative experiments for ethnographers of scale making, global connection, and human–nonhuman relations. Anna Tsing introduces. Mogu Mogu (Timothy Choy and Shiho Satsu...
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This article theorizes supply chain capitalism as a model for understanding both the continent-crossing scale and the constitutive diversity of contemporary global capitalism. In contrast with theories of growing capitalist homogeneity, the analysis points to the structural role of difference in the mobilization of capital, labor, and resources. He...
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There is an emerging recognition that the diversity of life comprises both biological and cultural diversity. In the past, however, it has been common to make divisions between nature and culture, arising partly out of a desire to control nature. The range of interconnections between biological and cultural diversity are reflected in the growing va...
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Diverging Understandings of Forest Management in Matsutake Science. As high-value gourmet mushrooms, the matsutake complex of the genus Tricholoma has been the subject of extensive research. This article reviews two trajectories of matsutake research, showing how distinctive regional nodes may develop within a cosmopolitan modern science. The globa...

Citations

... Feral Atlas describes life at the ends of human infrastructure projects that have manifested in strange and uncanny ways. Tsing wants research and pedagogy to employ multiple acts of noticing to explore what kinds of Feral life have already come forth in the Anthropocene, and what this means for collective life (Tsing and Bazzul 2021). Students might use their multi-faceted ways of knowing and go out into the world to document the uncanny effects of the Anthropocene. ...
... Sustainable management of these regions is further threatened by global environmental changes that have serious impacts on livelihoods of billions (Gadgil and Guha 1993). Given the long histories of human occupation and the influence of past climates and land-use practices in shaping tropical landscapes, it is essential to incorporate both ecological and cultural legacies in their planning and management (Swanson et al. 2021). Conservation and restoration plans often fail to acknowledge the significance of such legacies (Gillson and Marchant 2014), resulting in conflicts between restoration targets and people's needs (Colombaroli et al. 2021). ...
... The South Asian monsoon is more than an annual meteorological event. It is what Anna Tsing (2019) called an "open-ended gathering": an assemblage of human and nonhuman ways of being, knowing and intra-acting across difference, forming an emergent multiplicity whose story humans are part of, but by no means author. It Is an atmospheric principle that seeps into almost every aspects of life in the regions it envelopes-agriculture, culture, economics, infrastructure, politics and religion. ...
... Gordillo's spatio-historical approach to rubble resonates with recent calls for landscapes as the unit of analysis for multispecies ethnographies (Tsing, Mathews, and Bubandt 2019). This literature borrows the term from ecology, where landscapes are seen as units of heterogeneity whose components are patches (2019, 188). ...
... Turning to the environmental history of timekeeping, Kate Wersan (2017; 2019) highlights the use of non-clock timekeeping practices in eighteenth and nineteenth century gardening and agriculture, including the tracking of phenophases of the early melon where a variety of techniques forced the production of fruit very early in the season. From an art research perspective, Gan employs diagrams as a tool to explore multi-species temporalities in a satayoma forest in Japan (Gan and Tsing, 2018), including life cycles and seasonal rhythms. While no mention of phenology is made here, in a recent book chapter on her diagram method, Gan (2021: 113) Because of the fragmented nature of these interdisciplinary approaches to phenology, we also considered work on seasonality from an environmental humanities perspective which offers another opportunity to build stronger connections with phenology. ...
... La transformation de la Durance en machine-organique favorise des formes singulières de vie. Est-ce pour autant une marque de « résurgence holocénique »(Tsing 2018)?Ce concept d'Anna Tsing renvoie en premier lieu aux relations collaboratives qui viennent se tisser entre organismes et entités. Pour l'Apron, à l'image des champignons matsutakes qui trouvent dans les friches des forêts exploitées un terreau favorable à son développement, il s'agit d'une « résurgence holocénique » fortuite. ...
... In 'Slowly Writing into the Anthropocene', Rose (2013) recounts a reflection by ecologist Francis Elger, that: 'ecosystems may not only be more complex than we think, they may be more complex than we can think' (11). To make the entangled material world animate and tangible, new spaces in the public imagination must be opened (Tsing 2010), and PLA enables an accessible and adaptable way to approach this, as it can be shaped to include, and respond to multiple sites and themes. ...
... While Capitalism, on the one hand, is an incredibly adaptive socio-economic system, on the other, it has provoked indeterminacy and precarious conditions that have been reshaping the three ecologies: environment, social relations, and human subjectivity (Guattari, 2000). Latour et al. (2018) writes: ...
... The term 'feral' is commonly used for free-roaming donkeys, yet frequently ill defined, rarely qualified and laden with other (negative) connotations (Bough, 2006;Crowley, 2014;O'Mahony, 2020). As we go on to argue, the term 'feral' is still productive and useful insofar as it speaks to ideas of nonhuman autonomy (Tsing (2005), Bubandt and Tsing, 2018), but it is often used to delegitimise certain animals and serve agendas of control and eradication, especially when accompanied by dualistic ideas that demarcate the 'non-native' (O'Mahony, 2020). Conscious of these issues, we choose to use the phrase 'free-roaming' throughout this paper, for it is broad enough to include donkeys that are broadly living outside of human management (even if some are in some form of relationship with humans) yet specific enough to demonstrate we do not mean working animals, nor pets. ...
... Taste-Shaping-Natures Through Evans's time spent making miso at Noma, we learned how White and his colleagues were drawn to kōji and other fermentation microbes for their taste-making properties, how they "learned to be affected" by their visual, haptic, olfactory, and gustatory charisma (Despret 2004;Latour 2004), and how they have influenced their global distribution and natural history (Gan, Tsing, and Sullivan 2018). Bringing kōji cultures from Japan to Denmark and growing them for the first time on Scandinavian grains and pulses creates a novel microbial biogeography. ...