Co-figurations of the human: aesthetics, interaction and politics through an anthropos darkly

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In the introduction to this volume we exert ourselves to situate, delineate, and motivate the titular concept of co-figuration as a theoretically sophisticated avenue for structuring ethnographic inquiry into how particular senses of what is human relative to senses of the nonhuman emerge specific ethnographic settings. We situate the concept as an outgrowth of and response to the intersection of multispecies anthropology and the reinvigoration of an ecologically attuned humanism in this moment of anthropogenic crises so as to reckon critically with the particular western tradition of knowledge whose notions of humanity have been hegemonic. We carefully delineate co-figuration within this tradition to show how co-figuration as an organizing concept enables diligent ethnographers to display new and sometimes surprising topics and issues as they attend to the specific co-figurations of their fields. The commitment to ethnographic fidelity thus motivates the need for co-figuration as a novel concept by its ability to supplant the limited range of ethical and political positions offered by ecological humanisms with a commitment to postcolonial specificity through rigorous ethnography. We propose that an abiding respect and concern for what ethnography makes a significant difference for the anthropological understanding of sociality, politics, and aesthetics beyond their formerly secure human confines.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Number of pages42
Publication statusIn preparation - 2023

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