Thom van Dooren

Thom van Dooren

I’m a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Humanities at the University of New South Wales. I’m also co-editor of the international, open-access journal Environmental Humanities.

Location UNSW, Australia


  • What a fascinating thread, sorry to have found it so late!

    I agree that anthropomorphism is a tricky issue. By and large we've tried to negotiate it in exactly the way that Greg points to above. The issue with anthropomorphism is the *unwarranted* use of human-like characteristics in our descriptions of others. As such, the term tends to largely be used in...

  • Hi Stephanie. Some good points. Thanks very much. Where to start!

    Firstly, 'dancing' and 'playing' definitely aren't fanciful projections when applied to (some) animals. I am worried about unrealistic forms of 'anthropomorphism' -- but I'm also worried about what the ethologist Frans de Waal has called 'anthropodenial' (that is, refusing to see similarity...

  • I actually agree Barbara. I quite like the term too. I think it does important work. I'm just trying to be very careful about how and when I use it.

  • Thanks for your post. I agree that a new term here would be helpful! Partly because calling something natural doesn't really tell us anything about it, but also because 'nature' is freighted with so much political and ethical power (as we explore the implications section this week).

  • Nice comment. How planned do you really think Chicago was? Bits of it certainly were, but doesn't a city also grow 'organically' as people add and remove buildings and areas? How about the way that various 'nonhumans' (from rats to the Chicago River) have influenced the contours of the city?

  • I hope so Beverley. These kinds of connections between various forms of domination and oppression are very important. We'll talk more about them next week (and throughout) the course.

  • Hi Michel. I have heard anecdotal accounts of this kind of behaviour amongst American crows. The biologist John Marzluff (U Washington) has written about this - I think in his book "In the Company of Crows and Ravens." He speculates that there might be some form of social/public judgement going on, which in some cases leads to the offending crow being...

  • I'm glad to see that you've made this connection Mandy. We often think about democracy as a purely human affair. The paper earlier in this week by Eben on "Living with Parasites" disturbs this idea, but also presents us with some of the challenges of a more-than-human democracy. Figuring out what this might look like is one of the key challenges of the...

  • Hi Lisa

    Great questions! The research project is quite new so I'll have to keep you posted on how it all works out. I've set up a page on my website though with some basic information:

    As for your question of "why crows?", there are many parts to the answer: they've always fascinated me; they're some of the...