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other things in the world. Laurier and Philo (1999) discuss the stance on
anthropomorphism adopted in his topic Aramis (Latour 1996), noting the host of
'x-morphisms' which Latour allows to run between all manner of phenomena when
aspects of one order (say, machines) are deployed to illuminate the characteristics of
another (say, humans), and vice versa. In so doing, Latour admits to being
anthropomorphic in how he describes machines, and is unrepentant for doing so
because his view is that it illuminates shadowy dimensions of the machinic thing-
world all too easily neglected by conventional social science (see Laurier and Philo
1999: esp. 1056-1060). It is helpful to chart this aspect of Latour's work because
the charge of anthropomorphism is often laid at the door of many who toy with the
notion of agency in animals, and it is refreshing to see how he responds to this kind
of charge in an academic setting.
There is nothing new about anthropomorphism in animal studies, of course, and
one lovely example that we came across recently is a topic entitled Tiny Toilers and
Their Works (Glenwood Clark n.d.), which systematically discusses many different
insects through the lens of different human labourers and how they organise their
activities, products and spaces. For example:
Surrounding the cities of these ants are their gardens, large circular terraces
from which the industrious farmers have carefully removed all vegetation
except their favourite rice-plant…. The land-workers are fond of open air and
sunlight, and they use their gardens as exercise grounds in which they may
walk and enjoy the air…. From the edges of the circular clearings about the
nest wide highways run off in every direction into the surrounding country,
like the spokes radiating from the hub of a wheel. These roads are often sixty
feet long, and from two to five inches wide, real monuments to the
engineering skills of their builders…. In the open garden areas about the ant-
city usually grow the plants whose seeds are used as food by the
horticulturalists…. The ant farmer…is well aware of the importance of
keeping her farm-land free from weeds and useless plants.
(Glenwood Clark n.d.: 9-10)
Wasps as paper-makers, spiders as aviators, cicadas as miners, termites as architects:
all of these anthropomorphisms and many more feature in this topic, which in
many regards, as the above quote hints, could definitely be termed a study of 'insect
geography'. Its anthropomorphic cast is acutely obvious, and it is certainly not an
example which we are advocating be emulated by animal geographers. To a great
extent we do agree with criticising work, as here, which goes overboard in
attributing human intentions, goals, mental states and material practices to
nonhuman animals, thus seemingly erasing the 'otherness' of these animals. 26 Such
works can be seen to engage in hylozoism, the imputation of intentions to
nonhumans, and this is also something of which Latour (1988) has been accused
(we would probably argue rightly) in his work on Pasteur's microbes (see Schaffer
1991). We would suggest that there is no need to go so far as imputing conscious
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