About Me

Eben Kirksey studies the political dimensions of imagination as well as the interplay of natural and cultural history.

EDUCATION
Ph.D. 2008 UC Santa Cruz
M.Phil. 2003 University of Oxford
B.A. 2000 New College of Florida

Princeton University hosted Dr. Kirksey as the 2015-2016 Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Visiting Professor and he is currently an Executive Program Committee Member of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). He is currently Convener of Environmental Humanities and Co-Convener of the Masters in Environmental Management at UNSW Sydney. Eben Kirksey has published two books with Duke University Press—Freedom in Entangled Worlds (2012) and Emergent Ecologies (2015)—as well as one edited collection: The Multispecies Salon (2014).

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Multispecies Meal

The Multispecies Meal
@ the Society for Cultural Anthropology meetings in Santa Fe
May 7-8, 2010

Artists, anthropologists, and significant others came together to break bread at The Multispecies Salon, a special off-site event at the 2008 meetings of AAA in San Francisco. We shared food in an exercise of being and becoming with Donna Haraway’s companion species. A bestiary of agencies, kinds of relatings, come together in companion species. “Companion comes from the Latin cum panis, ‘with bread,’” she writes. During our meal we ate sourdough bread while Jake Metcalf told us about a microbial culture that crossed the Oregon Trail and then propagated itself on the internet. Acorn mush was prepared by Linda Noel, a Native American poet who told us that she always left some acorns behind “for the deer.”

Artisanal cheeses from nearby Cowgirl Creamery featuring organic milk and ambient as well as freeze-dried microbes from earth, air, and lab, were provided by Heather Paxson. She told us about what she calls “microbiopolitics”, the ways that human systems of ethics and governance bear on the doings of microorganisms.

Other items on our table involved small-scale relationships of mutual care as well as mutual violence. Geographer Jake Kosek had just collected fresh honey from his own beehive and was sporting a swollen hand from a fresh sting. While we sipped dandelion root tea, performance artist Caitlin Berrigan asked that we give blood to a dandelion plant, providing much needed nutrients. The violence was asymmetrical to be sure—bee stings and finger pricks are not equivalent to the large-scale robbery of a hive’s resources, or the uprooting of a plant. Still, this minor violence to human bodies was a reminder that the entangled relations among companion species are often fraught.

Eating a meal in an art gallery turned mundane routine into an opportunity for rumination and reflection. In trying to swallow the products of multispecies labor relations and nested ecological becomings, more than one gallery goer experienced indigestion. The fermented smell of sourdough yeast lingered on the palate, mixing with the bitter taste of dandelion tea and acorn mush.

We will host another multispecies meal at the 2010 meetings of the Society for Cultural Anthropology in Santa Fe. This will be a poster session, of sorts, where people can informally talk about their work and break bread together. People who are already participating in formal paper presentations are welcome to submit their edible organisms for consideration. Entrants should be prepared to bring enough food to share with audience members.

To be included in the session proposal, entrants should simply submit a title for their project by Monday, January 11th, 2010 at noon EST. Address all entries and queries to S. Eben Kirksey (skirksey@pitt.edu). Late entrants will be considered up until the SCA meetings in May.

More information about the Multispecies Salon: www.multispecies-salon.org/

Select Publications

Select Publications




KIRKSEY, S. E. (2017) "Lively Multispecies Communities, Deadly Racial Assemblages, and the Promise of Justice" South Atlantic Quarterly 116(1): 195-206.


KIRKSEY, S. E. (2015) "Species: A Praxiographic Study" Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 21, 758-780.


KIRKSEY, S. E. (2014) The Multispecies Salon, Duke University Press: Durham.


KIRKSEY, S. E. (2013) “Interspecies Love” in Lanjouw and Corbey (eds) The Politics of Species (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 164-77.


KIRKSEY, S. E., N. Shapiro, M. Brodine (2013) "Hope in Blasted Landscapes" Social Science Information, 52 (2): 228-256.


KIRKSEY, S. E. 2013 “A Messianic Multiple: West Papua, July 1998” in Bryan Turner (ed.) War and Peace: Essays on Religion and Violence (Anthem Press), pp. 37-59.


KIRKSEY, S. E. 2012 "Living with Parasites in Palo Verde National Park" Environmental Humanities, 1: 23-55.


KIRKSEY, S. E. 2012 "Thneeds Reseeds: Figures of Biocultural Hope in the Anthropocene" in G. Martin, D. Mincyte, and U. M√ľnster (eds.) Why Do We Value Diversity? Rachel Carson Perspectives vol 9: 89-94.


KIRKSEY, S. E. 2012 Freedom in Entangled Worlds, Duke University Press: Durham.


KIRKSEY, S. E. & S. HELMREICH. 2010 "The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography", Cultural Anthropology, 25 (4): 545-576. Full Special Issue (48.8 MB)

In the News

In September 2010 Eben testified before the U.S. Congress about massacres in West Papua.


He joined Indonesian investigative reporter Andreas Harsono in 2008 to publish "Criminal Collaborations", a peer-reviewed article about Indonesian military involvement in the murder of two Americans. This research started a lively discussion in the Indonesian media and sparked a series of media articles in publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! invited Eben to discuss this research on her news show.