We may have taken “inter-disciplinary thinking” for granted although it is far from imprinting everyday politics or restructuring how we produce new knowledge. Michael Leung crosses the threshold: what about econolandscapes and cultural virology (Rob Wallace), plant thinking (Michael Marder), multispecies perspectives (Anna Tsing) and so on, which culminate in what is called “pandemic-thinking”?…「跨界思考」不算新鮮,卻遠遠未達日常生活的廣泛應用。梁志剛超前一步,引述近年回應「人類紀」危機而出現的學者的論述,如植物思維、多/跨物種思維、經濟景觀、文化的流行擴散等,構成大流行的思維。

2020.04.10 France


Please could you stop the noise
I’m trying to get some rest
From all the unborn chicken voices in my head
What’s that?
What’s that?

— Radiohead, Paranoid Android, 1997

Thinking through the two chapters, We Can Think Ourselves into a Plague and Influenza’s Historical Present,” Rob Wallace’s question, “How do we work together?” stays. After listening to all your introductions I feel fortunate to be part of this reading group. I’m excited to know how our different backgrounds and disciplines will unpack the texts to come and “How we will work together?” but perhaps more importantly, with no pressure once again, “What will come out from our reading group and all our discussions?” This shared document is a great start.

Wallace wrote about produce-hyphen-species such as ‘rice-duck systems’ and proposed new concepts and interdisciplinary-thinking such as econolandscapes and cultural virology. How can we learn from other produce-species relationships, and look at the pandemic from multidisciplinary and multispecies perspectives? A banner photographed in March 2020, hanging off a balcony in Bordeaux shares that “We are all pangolins.” I think of anthropologist Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s book where she wrote, ‘It is in listening to that cacophony of troubled stories that we might encounter our best hopes for precarious survival.’ [1] If precarity means drained and concretised wetlands and disturbed bird habitats like those mentioned in Wallace’s book; or the eviction two days ago, amidst a lock down, in the west of France (a dune, wetland and rock to-be-dynamited to “build” a marina [2]), how can we listen to multispecies localised and migratory voices, and then act collectively? [3] As in the case of Zad de la Dune, are their tangible efforts even visible to us? In early February I learnt from visiting Navarre in the Basque Country that our confrontations with neoliberal high-speed train projects are so similar but can be disconnected (until now). [4] What other places does the Living Rivers project shared by BH connect to? [5] How can they flow together? And can stories be shared in a way to preserve (future) precarious wetlands?

How can we apply pandemic-thinking (to borrow from Michael Marder’s plant-thinking), or even communovirus-thinking to our ongoing projects? [6] Chris Smaje asked, Does Goldman Sachs care if you raise chickens? [7] Everything is political and the pandemic is expansive — broadening the biopolitical potential of cultivating bees or herding goats in the city, or defending a wetland. [8]

On est tous des pangolins (We are all pangolins),
Bordeaux, 18th March 2020. Photograph by Nicolas Tucat.





[1]  Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Princeton: Princeton University Press): 34

[2] https://www.facebook.com/ZadBordDeMer/photos/a.127137608723589/213592420078107/?type=3&theater

[3] Messy list: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Lzi7-Y3tp_yfOEOSYdtwJq0bFNQ154CFr52DyrIbFTo/edit?usp=sharing 

[4] http://www.tinyurl.com/NoTAVsEverywhere

[5] http://ecotopia.today/livingrivers/map.html#home

[6] Communovirus, a combination of communism and virus, borrowed from some comrades in America

[7] https://smallfarmfuture.org.uk/2016/02/does-goldman-sachs-care-if-you-raise-chickens-some-thoughts-on-accelerationism

[8] Antonio Negri refers to ‘biopolitics’ as the ‘the possibility of resistance, disobedience and self-determination, from the bottom-up’. Paul De Bruyne and Pascal Gielen, Community Art, The Politics of Trespassing (Amsterdam: Valiz, 2011): 171.


Related Readings: Michael Leung’s ON LAND field notes series