Edited by Gavin Van Horn, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and John Hausdoerffer
Center for Humans and Nature
Volume 4 of the Kinship series revolves around the question of interpersonal relations: Which experiences expand our understanding of being human in relation to other-than-human beings?
We live in an astounding world of relations. We share these ties that bind with our fellow humans—and we share these relations with nonhuman beings as well. From the bacterium swimming in your belly to the trees exhaling the breath you breathe, this community of life is our kin—and, for many cultures around the world, being human is based upon this extended sense of kinship.
Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations is a lively series that explores our deep interconnections with the living world. The five Kinship volumes—Planet, Place, Partners, Persons, Practice—offer essays, interviews, poetry, and stories of solidarity, highlighting the interdependence that exists between humans and nonhuman beings. More than 70 contributors—including Robin Wall Kimmerer, Richard Powers, David Abram, J. Drew Lanham, and Sharon Blackie—invite readers into cosmologies, narratives, and everyday interactions that embrace a more-than-human world as worthy of our response and responsibility.
Kinship spans the cosmos, but it is perhaps most life changing when experienced directly and personally. “Persons,” Volume 4 of the Kinship series, attends to the personal—our unique experiences with particular creatures and landscapes. This includes nonhuman kin that become our allies, familiars, and teachers as we navigate a “world as full of persons, human and otherwise, all more-or-less close kin, all deserving respect,” as religious studies scholar Graham Harvey puts it. The essayists and poets in the volume share a wide variety of kinship-based experiences—from Australian ecophilosopher Freya Mathews’s perspective on climate-related devastation on her country’s koalas, to English professor and forest therapy guide Kimberly Ruffin’s reclamation of her “inner animal,” to German biologist and philosopher Andreas Weber’s absorption with and by lichen. Our kinships are interpersonal, and being “pried open with curiosity,” as poet and hip-hop emcee Manon Voice notes in this volume, “Stir the first of many magicks.”
Proceeds from sales of Kinship benefit the nonprofit, non-partisan Center for Humans and Nature, which partners with some of the brightest minds to explore human responsibilities to each other and the more-than-human world. The Center brings together philosophers, ecologists, artists, political scientists, anthropologists, poets and economists, among others, to think creatively about a resilient future for the whole community of life.
"The Kinship series of books is an ensemble of outstanding essays that reveal the truth that reality is rooted in relationships. After reading these marvellous essays, it becomes crystal clear that there is no reality outside relationships. These books shatter the old story of separation between humans and Nature and explode the belief that nature is a machine and the planet Earth is a dead rock. Here is the new story of the living Earth and a celebration of deep connectivity of life; human as well as more-than-human life. These are inspiring and enlightening essays. They will change your perception of Nature. I recommend these books wholeheartedly!"—Satish Kumar, Founder, Schumacher College, Editor Emeritus, Resurgence & Ecologist
“Essential reading about the question of our time: how to belong. A chorus of beautiful, wise, grieving, exulting, and generative voices, guiding us into true ‘family values’ for a wild living Earth. These collections offer rare and rich insight into how to find, honor, and heal the bonds of blood, place, time, and ethics that knit us to all other beings.”—David George Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen and The Songs of Trees
“This collection is a passionate call to turn towards the living Earth with reverence and respect, and in so doing to cultivate new and old forms of curiosity, of understanding, and of responsibility. Across five captivating volumes, Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations brings together a rich diversity of voices and perspectives. Contributions range in form from poetry to interviews and essays, drawing on and engaging with the insights of Indigenous stories, philosophy, the natural sciences, and much more. Ultimately, this is a collection that does much more than simply describe the webs of relationship that are our world of kin. At the same time, it invites and at times pulls the reader into a sense of the fundamental sharedness of all life and our profound obligations, perhaps now more than ever, to hold open room for others to be and to become in their own unique and precious ways.”—Thom van Dooren, author of The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds
About the Editors:
Gavin Van Horn is the Creative Director and Executive Editor for the Center for Humans and Nature. His writing is tangled up in the ongoing conversation between humans, our nonhuman kin, and the animate landscape. He is the co-editor (with John Hausdoerffer) of Wildness: Relations of People and Place, and (with Dave Aftandilian) City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness, and the author of The Way of Coyote: Shared Journeys in the Urban Wilds.
Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, botanist, writer and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York and the founding Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. She is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a student of the plant nations. Her writings include Gathering Moss and Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. As a writer and a scientist, her interests include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land. She lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens domestic and wild.
John Hausdoerffer is author of Catlin's Lament: Indians, Manifest Destiny, and the Ethics of Nature as well as co-author and co-editor of Wildness: Relations of People and Place and What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want to Be? John is the Dean of the School of Environment & Sustainability at Western Colorado University and co-founder of Coldharbour Institute, the Center for Mountain Transitions, and the Resilience Studies Consortium. John serves as a Fellow and Senior Scholar for the Center for Humans and Nature.