Posthumanism and Ethnology, Ethnologia Fennica Vol 47 No 2 (2020)


The latest thematic issue of Ethnologia Fennica discusses the intersections of ethnology and posthumanist theories and approaches. The central idea of posthumanist theoretization is to displace the human being from the central position in the universe and highlight that more-than-human entities have strongly affected the formation of humanity. Although the debate on posthumanism has been going on in the humanities and social sciences for a couple of decades, in ethnology and related fields such as anthropology and folklore studies, the discussion on posthumanist approaches has started less than ten years ago. While human-animal and human-nature relationships have been objects of research in these fields for a long time, traditionally these aspects have been studied in order to find out something about human societies and modes of thought. Posthumanist enquiry, on the other hand, aims to highlight the significance and agency of more-than-human entities.

Posthumanist theoretization has focused on two separate branches: first, our relationships to other organic entities such as non-human animals, plants, and nature; and second, inorganic objects such as machines and digital technologies. In the current issue, the realms of technology and human-animal relationships are brought together in two articles. First, Kajsa Kuoljok discusses the effects of monitoring reindeer through GPS technology in a Sámi reindeer herding community. Second, Taija Kaarlenkaski and Annika Lonkila investigate in their article the requirements the technologization of contemporary dairy husbandry sets on both humans and animals. Andreas Backa, on the other hand, examines views on meat, slaughter, and human-animal relations in the contemporary self-sufficiency trend among the Swedish-speaking people in Osthrobothnia, Finland. In the last article of the issue, Oliwia Murawska combines posthumanist thought with theories and concepts derived from Martin Heidegger, through which she analyzes how the people living near a remote polluted lake in Poland perceive and understand the expressions of the lake and surrounding nature.

The issue also includes a commentary by Linda Tallberg, Astrid Huopalainen and Lindsay Hamilton, in which they discuss the ethics of research methods in multispecies settings and emphasize the importance of bringing forward voices that are usually silenced through novel approaches such as arts-based participatory techniques. In addition, the issue includes six book reviews on topical questions like the role of affects and emotions in cultural research, the meanings of printed books as part of the cultures of reading, and posthuman approaches to folklore.

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