Roy Ballantine Ashton (UCL) - 2022-23 Students

An epistemology of animism through a study of tracking: How Maniq hunter-gatherers read the forest

Studies of animism describe nonhuman personhood and multispecies sociality but neglect the ways people detect and monitor nonhuman communications. Kohn’s (2013) approach to interspecies semiotics is sparse in concrete examples from nonhuman beings. The art of animal tracking is a powerful, ethnographically unexplored lens to understand how people relate with nonhumans. Investigation of how hunter-gatherers interpret tracks and signs in tropical rainforests is especially neglected. My training and experience in tracking position me uniquely to conduct this ethnography of tracking among Maniq hunter-gatherers, to research the concrete, sensory components of interspecies communications and analyse the epistemology revealed by their interpretation.

Primary supervisor: Jerome Lewis, UCL
Secondary supervisor: Lewis Daly, UCL

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