Ethnobiology, the Ontological Turn, and Human Sociality

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Abstract

The ontological turn (OT) is a loose cluster of theoretical approaches within cultural anthropology that advocates a synthetic, overarching way forward for ethnographically oriented cultural anthropology. We argue that in order to contribute substantively to ethnobiology the OT needs to distance itself from a long-standing tradition of thinking within ethnography that assumes some kind of fundamental divide between the natural and the social sciences. This distancing seems especially unlikely in light of the meta-anthropological nature of the OT as primarily a perspective on ethnographic methodology. Instead, we advocate for naturalistic theoretical alternatives for thinking about human sociality, where philosophical innovation develops in concert with ongoing empirical work across the biological, cognitive, and social sciences. We illustrate this perspective by drawing on two naturalistic accounts likely to prove more fruitful for ethnobiological practice, namely, trans-genera models of sociality and progenerative views of kinship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-207
Number of pages10
JournalJournal Of Ethnobiology
Volume43
Issue number3
Early online date10 Aug 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

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