This afterword reflects on how the Matsutake Worlds Research Group project can be considered as ontological. The multispecies ethnographic engagements presented in this special issue manifest not only the concepts inherent in the worlds of others that defy the categories of Western metaphysical thought (e.g., life forms seen as ‘events’ rather than mere things), but also the way in which non-human life forms themselves can demand that we practice another kind of thought and embrace another vision of our own selves. By succumbing to the allure of the matsutake fungus, the Matsutake Worlds Research Group has begun one of the most suggestive and original conceptual enterprises today, a practice that perhaps could be named ‘heeding headless thoughts’.
Heeding Headless Thoughts
Agustín Fuentes and Eduardo Kohn
Proposal 1: Anthropology Beyond the Human Eduardo Kohn
Ethnographic attention to human-animal relations in Amazonia reveals the constitutively semiotic nature of all life.This helps us appreciate more broadly the ways in which semiotic logics that are not necessarily human or language-like underlie the modes by which thoughts and lives form associations. This changes our understanding of relationality, arguably anthropology’s central concern.
Proposal 2: Humans as Niche Constructors, as Primates and with Primates: Synergies for Anthropology in the Anthropocene Agustín Fuentes
Humans are primates and consummate niche constructors. If we hope to be both relevant and successful investigators in the multispecies word of the Anthropocene, we need an anthropological practice that places humans and other organisms in integrated and shared ecological and social spaces. Ethnoprimatology and a constructivist evolutionary theory help us move towards a place where the biological and social are folded into an integrative anthropology, in which a myriad of entangled agents and theoretical perspectives are central in investigating the processes of becoming human.
Between Theory, Ethnography, and Method
Martin Holbraad, Sarah Green, Alberto Corsín Jiménez, Veena Das, Nurit Bird-David, Eduardo Kohn, Ghassan Hage, Laura Bear, Hannah Knox and Bruce Kapferer
Recent years in anthropology have seen a noticeable trend, moving from debates about theory to a concern with method. So while some generations ago we would tend to identify ourselves as anthropologists with reference to particular theoretical paradigms—for example, Marxism, (post-)structuralism, cognitivism, cultural materialism, interpretivism—these days our tendency is to align ourselves, often eclectically, with proposals conceived as methodological: entanglements, assemblages, ontologies, technologies of description, epistemic partnerships, problematizations, collaborative anthropology, the art of noticing, and so on.