Loudly sing cuckoo: More-than-human seasonalities in Britain

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Abstract

This article explores seasonality through the lens of British relations with other beings. Drawing on discussions of temporality and seasonality by Ingold, Harris and Krause and extending them in the light of developments in more-than-human anthropology, the qualities of different sorts of seasonal, more-than-human relations are explored. Haraway’s emphasis on an intimate ‘being with’ other species is used to consider close seasonal relations that draw beings together in shared tasks. However, in modern societies such as Britain, where lives are lived as much indoors as out, less intimate seasonal relations can still carry great significance. These relations are explored using Latimer’s concept of ‘being alongside’. This distinction is expanded upon by comparing narratives of listening to birds in Britain with ethnographic examples from non-European societies where people procure their own subsistence and lead seasonal lives closely enmeshed with plants and animals. Similar relations are examined between farmers and other beings on the Scottish island of Islay, where wild geese and domestic livestock graze the same pastures and where government conservation schemes require the mowing of grass at specific times to foster the breeding success of rare corncrakes. Here ‘being with’ other species is complicated by seemingly detached bureaucratic government schemes, which nevertheless are drawn into the seasonal taskscape by the effects they have on humans and nonhumans alike. Finally, newer seasonal relations with nonhumans that emerge through the use of technologies such as radio-tracking and websites are considered. These render global ecologies of more-than-human seasonality visible in relations of remote witnessing. Seasonality is thus explored as a means to consider the specific relations of place, the contradictions and tensions between being-in-the-world and bureaucratic schemes, and the fragility of the ties that bind weather, wildlife and nation in a time of rapid environmental change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171– 187
Number of pages17
JournalThe Sociological Review Monographs
Volume65
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2017

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Keywords

  • being alongside
  • birds
  • Britain
  • Islay
  • more-than-human
  • seasonality
  • taskscape

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