Reading (2021)


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The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley (2004 [1954])

Read August 2021

psychedelia, mescaline, art history, science, religion, philosophy, psychology

I wasn’t as wowed by this as I’d hoped to be, but I was more entertained than I’d expected, and I understand why it’s a classic of the genre. It’s basically a trip report, in prose that is at times beautiful, at times funny and at times a bit of a ramble…

Read the rest of my review here.

Divergent Mind, Jenara Nerenberg (2021)

Read July 2021

neurodivergence, sensitivity, HSP, autism, aspergers, ADHD, SPD, anxiety, gender, feminism

I don’t know how to review a book that changed my life. I picked it up thinking I might learn something about people I know, but I ended up learning so much about myself that I’d made a doctor’s appointment before I even finished it. And it’s not even a long book. So I’ll just give you the blurb, and you can take it from there.

A paradigm-shifting study of neurodivergent women—those with ADHD, autism, synesthesia, high sensitivity, and sensory processing disorder—exploring why these traits are overlooked in women and how society benefits from allowing their unique strengths to flourish.

Mind the Gap, Karen Gurney (2020)

Abandoned July 2021

sex, desire, arousal, orgasms

I didn’t really like this book, but because it was recommended to me by one of my closest friends who got a lot out of reading it, I won’t throw out the baby with the bath water, so I’ll attempt a balanced review. No promises, though. My issue with the book is simply that the author, Karen Gurney, seems to be under the illusion that her book is going to help every woman with any issue with sex imaginable: “this book is for all women (or female identifying people) of any age”. Well, it isn’t.

Read the rest of my review here.

Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel (2004)

Finished June 2021

sex, romance, non-monogamy, eroticism, desire, partnership, fidelity, affairs

“Many couples confuse love with merging. This mix-up is a bad omen for sex. To sustain an élan toward the other, there must be a synapse to cross. Eroticism requires separateness. In other words, eroticism thrives in the space between the self and the other. In order to commune with the one we love, we must be able to tolerate this void and its pall of uncertainties.”

Read my review here.

Set Adrift Upon the World, James Hunter (2015)

Paused May 2021

history, colonialism, British imperialism, land theft, forced resettlement, diaspora, Canada, Scotland

I did not finish this book so I don’t feel I can write a whole review. I read it because of a personal interest as well as an academic one.

Suffice to say that anyone who wants to learn about the history of the United Kingdom should read this book. If we talk about the legacy of British colonialism across the globe, let us not forget British colonialism in Scotland as well.

Read the rest of my review here.

Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013)

Finished May 2021

North American indigeneity, TEK (traditional ecological knowledge), memoir, postcolonialism, history, storytelling, botany, ecosystems thinking, sustainability, land theft

I found Braiding Sweetgrass to be something of a struggle to get my head around, but once I did, I really connected with Kimmerer’s style and message, and indeed found the book quite impactful. It empowered me to feel less self conscious about the bonds I experience with the non-human world, and less cowed into silence about the nature of that experience.

Read the rest of my review here.

The Word for World is Forest, Ursula K. Le Guin (1972)

Finished May 2021

science fiction

Overall, I really loved reading The Word for World is Forest, and coming from someone who generally stays away from fiction that says a lot. This doesn’t fully do it justice, but imagine that Terry Pratchett watched one of Hayao Miyazaki’s earlier movies and decided to write a serious political sci-fi novel about colonisation, deforestation and war.

Read the rest of my review here.

Staying with the Trouble, Donna J. Haraway (2016)

Finished May 2021

environmental humanities, STS, multispecies thinking, anthropocene/capitalocene, posthumanism, ecofeminism

It’s really hard to review a work like Staying with the Trouble, especially for someone who is still so out of their depth and has not read even half of the references this book is bursting with. I think the way I have stored it in my mind is as a treasure chest of ideas and images that can help people working in the environmental humanities to shake up and shake out the way they see the world and their role within it. This is a book arguing in favour of hope as a tactic or strategy in tackling climate collapse.

Read the rest of my review here.

How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan (2018)

Finished April 2021

psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, DMT/ayahuasca), war on drugs, neuroscience, mental health, therapy, death, spirituality

While it isn’t the radical manifesto I was hoping for, How to Change Your Mind remains a very readable, frequently informative and occasionally thought-provoking overview of how psychedelic drugs came to occupy the position that they do, and have the image that they have, in contemporary Euro-American (heavy on the ‘American’) society.

Read the rest of my review here.

The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel Van der Kolk (2014)

Finished 19 January 2021

trauma, PTSD, self-help, psychology, psychiatry, treatment, EMDR, therapy, movement, embodiment

This was a personal read after a long time of being recommended it. It was well worth the read and I only regret waiting as long as I did to read it. As informative about trauma as it is transformative, this book left me changed – more empathetic towards the flaws of others, and more accepting of my own.

Read the rest of my review here.

Essays and Articles

Valentine, D and Hassoun, A. (2019). Uncommon Futures. Annual Review of Anthropology, 48 (pp 243-260). [link]

Finished June 2021

futurity, temporality, refusal, decolonization, fugitivity, commonality, continuism, Anthropocene, multiplicity

See review here.

Lewallen, A. (2016). Signifying Ainu Space: Reimagining Shiretoko’s Landscapes through Indigenous Ecotourism1. Humanities, 5(3), 59. [link]

Finished early 2021

indigenous activism; Ainu; Japan; world heritage; ecotourism; settler colonialism; traditional ecological knowledge; indigenous space; ecological colonialism

Martín-Díaz, E. (2017). Are universities ready for interculturality? The case of the Intercultural University ‘Amawtay Wasi’ (Ecuador). Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, 26(1), 73–90. [link]

Finished early 2021

plurinationality, higher education, interculturality, indigenous peoples, epistemology of knowledge

Aïdi, H. (2020). National Identity in the Afro-Arab Periphery: Ethnicity, Indigeneity and (anti)Racism in Morocco. Project on Middle East Political Science. [link]

Finished early 2021

postcolonialism, North Africa, anti-racism, ethnicity, indigeneity, Morocco

Kramvig, B., & Førde, A. (2020). Stories of reconciliation enacted in the everyday lives of Sámi tourism entrepreneurs. Acta Borealia, 37(1–2), 27–42. [link]

Finished early 2021

Storytelling; reconciliation; decolonization; Sápmi; Sámi tourism

Maybe a bit idealistic in its analysis but a good read.

Devine, J. A., & Baca, J. A. (2020). The Political Forest in the Era of Green Neoliberalism. Antipode, 52(4), 911–927. [link]

Finished 19 January 2021

forestry, neoliberalism, territory, governance, knowledge production, subject formation, political ecology

The authors summarise previous use of the term ‘political forest’ by Peluso and Vandergeest, and the related colonial moments they identified: “colonialism, post-colonial independence, and counter-insurgency struggles” (912). The term emerged in relation to colonialism in South-East Asia and seeks to denaturalise forests, “refiguring them as political-ecological entities, formed through a combination of colonial discourses, territorial governance strategies, and the rise of scientific forestry” (912). In this introductory paper to a Special Issue on political forests, the authors expand on a fourth colonial moment, which they label ‘green neoliberalism’. This moment is defined by the presence of non-state actors “like global conservation organisations, non-profit foundations, and celebrity philanthropists” and “new technologies like remote sensing and GIS” (921), and they indicate how this moment is unfurling in various locations across ‘the Global South’. It all stayed quite vague but reading the rest of the Issue would probably deliver me the ethnographic detail I was yearning for.

I found this article only somewhat interesting but luckily very readable and it introduced me to some handy concepts that might work well to open up my ways of thinking about forests and forest-like territories. My overarching curiosity is how and if this kind of approach would hold any water in the global North as it was very much developed in the global South, and I was disappointed by the lack of a discussion and indeed centring of Indigenous and local actors. I am always sceptical of these kinds of broad concepts with supposed universal relevance, and yet I found it a helpful introduction to thinking about ways of structuring a genealogy of a specific landscape or territory.