2022-2023 Annual Topic: Listening for the Anthropos-not-seen

Listening for the Anthropos-not-seen poster
Artwork by Pedro Ruiz,  Natural Richness Series, 2020

Topic Director: Kristina Lyons, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Humanities

The 2022-2023 annual topic, Listening for the Anthropos-not-seen, turns our attention to the silences and exclusions that not only extractivist, privatizing, and neoliberal economic models propel, but those that even progressive agendas for climate and environmental justice may perpetuate.  To this end, we have organized a series of events over the course of the academic year to dialogue about the limits and possibilities of rights of nature sentences and legal frameworks; to learn from decolonial and anticolonial science in practice; and to think more deeply about collaboration and care and their transformative potential in alliance-building, community engaged research, and political praxis.

View the different topic events we have held throughout the year below.

Topic 1: Stories from the Anthropos-not-seen

September 29th, 2022

Artwork by Pedro Ruiz,  Natural Richness Series, 2020

How can we tell stories with and from the “Anthropos-not-seen”? Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser engage in a hybrid dialogue where they discuss their proposal to “uncommon nature” and the Anthropocene. They will converse about ways to listen for the silences and exclusions too often perpetuated even within progressive agendas for climate and environmental justice.


Mario Blaser is a professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He  is the author of Storytelling Globalization from the Paraguayan Chaco and Beyond (Duke University Press, 2010) and co-editor of A world of Many World (Duke University Press 2018);  Indigenous Peoples and Autonomy: Insights for the Global Age (University of British Columbia Press, 2010) and In the Way of Development: Indigenous peoples, Life Projects and Globalization (Zed Books 2004). His upcoming book Not About the Anthropocene: An Essay of Political Ontology for Life Projects examines the challenges of articulating heterogeneous life projects under the shadow of discussions on the Anthropocene and the Common. Life projects embody ‘small stories’ about the good life and in this sense can be contrasted with the ‘big stories’ through which notions like Anthropocene and the Common tend to be associated. In effect, discussions around these two concepts tend to be haunted by the image of the Blue Planet as a totality that functions as the horizon of relevance for politics. Blaser’s research explores the proposal that life projects index other politics which opens new vistas to the problems that both debates on the Anthropocene and the Common purport to address.

Marisol de la Cadena, born in Peru, trained as an anthropologist in Peru, England, France and USA. She locates her work at the crossroads between STS and what exceeds science. Interested in “ethnographic concepts,” her most book is Earth Beings. Ecologies of Practice Across Andean Worlds (2015.) With Mario Blaser she edited “A World of Many Worlds” (2018) with contributions to “Indigenous Cosmopolitics: Dialogues towards the reconstitution of worlds” a Sawyer Seminar held at UC Davis (2012-2013.) She currently works in Colombian farms on cow terraforming practices.

Topic 2: Critical Engagements with Rights of Nature

November 22nd & 30th, 2022

Artwork by Abel Rodríguez, ‘Seasonal changes in the flooded rain forest’

In our November event, we pose a series of conversations about the potentials and limits that have emerged in diverse rights of nature (RON) rulings. Topics to be discussed include: the political, ethical, and juridical challenges involved in granting legal personhood to non-human beings and specific ecosystems, as well as lessons from Colombia, India, and the United States regarding climate jurisprudence activism and RON movements. Pre-circulated recorded conversations between anthropologists, lawyers, environmental activists, and community leaders will be followed by a virtual roundtable.

Image is by Abel Rodríguez (Mogaje Guihu), and elder from the Nonuya Indigenous group native to the Cahuinarí River of the Colombian Amazon. His work is grounded in ancestral knowledge of the plants of the region. He is a self-taught artist who began to depict the flora and fauna of the Amazon by memory after he and his family were displaced from the territory in the 1990s due to the country’s armed conflict. The above is part of his ink and watercolor series called ‘Seasonal changes in the flooded rain forest’.

Topic 3: Anti-colonial/Decolonial Science Studies in Practice Roundtable

February 23rd, 2023

Artwork by Matteo Farinella

Indigenous feminist STS scholar Kim TallBear and feminist STS scholar Tania Pérez-Bustos discuss how scientific research methods can align with or against ongoing coloniality by reflecting on their decolonial/anti-colonial science studies practices. They are joined by fellow research colleagues, Isabel González Arango and Rick Smith, for this roundtable virtual conversation.  


Kim TallBear is Professor, Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience, and Society. She is building a research hub on Indigenous Science, Technology, and Society.

Rick Smith is a biocultural anthropologist studying how colonialism and imperialism in the Americas impact people’s DNA and the landscapes we live in. Rick is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at George Mason University interested in genomics, epigenomics, ancient DNA, and power and inequality. 

Tania Pérez-Bustos is the co-founder of Artesanal Tecnológica and is a faculty member at the School of Gender Studies at the National University of Colombia. She is interested in transdisciplinary work from which to explore methodologies that enable transformative research and pedagogies.

Isabel González Arango is an anthropologist and tejedora. Her research interests revolve around textile making and pedagogies and their relationship with the armed conflict in Colombia. Isabel also accompanies the Costurero de Tejedoras por la Memoria de Sonsón, an initiative that fosters collective memory strategies through weaving and embroidery as language, dialogue, and healing.

Topic 4: Colonial ways of listening: an environmental kin study of fish recordings

March 30th, 2023

Artwork by Dr. Zoe Todd

Western social science and humanities scholars position listening as a way to build more responsive, ethical and reciprocal relations to people and environments. But to think about listening as a possibly liberatory practice, we need to consider how Anglo-European modes of listening and interpreting the world through sound are shaped by “sonic colonialities”. These are encultured ways of apprehending and narrating environments that are derived from the Eurocentric fetish for pre-colonial natures, imagined as discrete, unmediated, and possessable.There has been an explosion in recent years of western scientific interest in recording the vocalizations and sounds that fish make. Applying AM Kanngieser’s concept of “sonic colonialities” (2023), informed by decolonial scholarship, and drawing on our collaborative methodology of “environmental kin studies”, we examine the implications for scientists to be eavesdropping on fish at this inflection point in global history and late capitalist climate breakdown.


Dr. Zoe Todd (she/they) (Red River Métis) is a practice-led artist-researcher who studies the relationships between Indigenous sovereignty and freshwater fish futures in Canada. Dr. Todd combines methods from Critical Indigenous Studies, history, geography, art, oral history, ethnography, and other disciplines/approaches to intervene collaboratively with colleagues in catastrophic fish declines in their home province. They are a co-founder of the Institute for Freshwater Fish Futures, which is a collaborative Indigenous-led initiative that is ‘restor(y)ing fish futures, together’ across three continents. They are also a co-founder of the Indigenous Environmental Knowledge Institute (IEKI) at Carleton University. They were a 2018 Yale Presidential Visiting Fellow, and in 2020 they were elected to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars. Dr. Todd is an Associate Professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies at Simon Fraser University. 

AM Kanngieser is a geographer and sound artist. They are a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow in GeoHumanities at Royal Holloway, University of London. Their current projects amplify movements for self-determination in relation to ongoing colonisation through resource extraction, environmental racism and ecological disaster in Oceania. They are the author of Experimental Politics and the Making of Worlds (2013), Between Sound and Silence: Listening toward Environmental Relations (forthcoming). Their audio work has been commissioned by Documenta 14 Radio, BBC Radio, ABC Radio National, The Natural History Museum London, and Deutschland Radio, amongst many others. https://amkanngieser.com/