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How Forests Think

Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human
Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
Length: 10 hrs
Categories: History, World
3.5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Can forests think? Do dogs dream? In this astonishing book, Eduardo Kohn challenges the very foundations of anthropology, calling into question our central assumptions about what it means to be human - and thus distinct from all other life forms. Based on four years of fieldwork among the Runa of Ecuador's Upper Amazon, Kohn draws on his rich ethnography to explore how Amazonians interact with the many creatures that inhabit one of the world's most complex ecosystems.

Whether or not we recognize it, our anthropological tools hinge on those capacities that make us distinctly human. However, when we turn our ethnographic attention to how we relate to other kinds of beings, these tools (which have the effect of divorcing us from the rest of the world) break down. How Forests Think seizes on this breakdown as an opportunity. Avoiding reductionistic solutions, and without losing sight of how our lives and those of others are caught up in the moral webs we humans spin, this book skillfully fashions new kinds of conceptual tools from the strange and unexpected properties of the living world itself. In this groundbreaking work, Kohn takes anthropology in a new and exciting direction - one that offers a more capacious way to think about the world we share with other kinds of beings.

©2013 The Regents of the University of California (P)2017 Tantor

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Painful, arcane gibberish.

So, this is going to sound harsh and one doesn't like to be so harsh, but it has to be, I'm afraid. First, if you're a sociocultural anthropologist then you *might* get a lot out of Kohn. I was trained as an ecologist and historian, and lately have made forays into the social sciences, hence the reason I picked up 'How Forests Think'. I didn't learn anything much about how forests think, alas. Instead, and I found utterly unlistenable/unreadable drivel. (I made it a few chapters in and perhaps it gets better... and perhaps not.) The premise seems to be that anthropologists ought to take account of nonhuman living things. Well, duh. OK, fine. I mean, welcome to the party. Nice to see you even if you're a century or so late. But then Kohn throws rigour out the window in exchange for a swag of romantic presumptions about the natural world and Indigenous peoples' relationship to it that would make the proverbial noble savage blush. I found myself by turns muttering and shouting aloud at the book, 'But how do you know that?!' I'm told his stuff makes more sense if one grasps semiotics. In which case, a little Semiotics 101 mightn't have gone astray. (But hell! Why would an author actually want to communicate?!) Rarely—and here I'm being generous!—does Kohn actually test his pronouncements about how nonhumans see the world against decades of zoology, ecology, behavioural science, or any other relevant field. The writing is wretchedly opaque, arcane, verbose, and just plain bad. Thus, even the patient reader, prepared to hear Kohn out, is left wondering what the hell he's on about and why. If ever there was an award based on Michael Billig's 'Learn to Write Badly: How to Succeed in the Social Sciences' this book would win it in spades. All the author manages to do is reinforce the stereotype of the out-of-touch anthropologist too distracted by the voices in their head and seduced by their own wordiness to be worth a jaguar's poo in the woods.

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  • J. F. Uccello
  • 22-01-2018

Fascinating Book, Great Narrator

This book is fascinating, thoroughly enjoyed it and gleaned much knowledge. The reader, Malcolm Hillgartner, is the best in the business.

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  • CJ
  • 28-04-2018

No more non author narrators

I’ve learned my lesson. Maybe ok for fiction, but this blandly cheery weather-report-like reading is absurd with this text—not his fault just a shame.

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  • Alvise Mattozzi
  • 06-09-2019

very annoying wrong pronunciation of French names

very interesting book if you are into social sciences or semiotics. very productive interpreation of Peirce. a very challenging discourse about difference. however the book underestimates Saussurean seniotics and its developments.

the pronunciation of French last names is always wrong and is very annoying. unbeleavable

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  • Thomas Simon
  • 11-05-2018

abstract and boring. refund wanted

a book about the real forest that stays in the world of abstraction. author spent too much time in forest reading rather than observing.

1 person found this helpful