Drafts of all of the below papers have been completed and are awaiting publication. Please get in touch if you’d like to see any of them.
Evolution: Lessons from Some Cooperative Ravens
With Viciane Despret
Corvids cooperate. Whatever else they might do in the world – squabbling at carcasses or ‘stealing’ other birds’ eggs – they also posses rich social lives that include a broad range of cooperative interactions, from working together to mob predators and rear their young, to sharing food. This chapter focuses on some cooperative ravens (Corvus corax) and the scientists that study them to explore and challenge the simplistic notion that evolution teaches us that life, at some fundamental level, is inherently selfish and competitive. These ravens remind us that this simply isn’t the case. Or, more accurately, that it is only the case if we accept some very peculiar understandings of ‘selfishness’ that paper over the complexity of our living world. And yet stories about selfishness persist, in different ways, in both the scientific and the popular literatures. In this context, this chapter explores how these framings emerge and the rhetorical power that they possess. Ultimately, what emerges from taking these ravens seriously is a more hopeful account of evolution that opens up space for new kinds of animal studies scholarship that practice an appreciation for the many diverse ways that organism get on with each other to shape our living world.
(For Lynn Turner, Ron Broglio and Undine Sellbach (eds.) The Edinburgh Companion to Animal Studies, University of Edinburgh: Edinburgh, 2018)
(For Lori Gruen (ed.) Critical Terms in Animal Studies. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 2018)