Accepted paper:

The awareness of non-human that surrounds us


Giedre Smitiene (Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore)

Paper short abstract:

The presentation has a twofold aim: first to reveal how traditional consciousness treats animals and plants as having awareness, secondly to show a possibility of work on field research data using phenomenological approach.

Paper long abstract:

Our lived place is more than a given area, or a container for our activities. The lived place is always in process of formation, because it consists of relations among things, plants, animals and human. Self-reception of a human as a part of an ecosystem rather than a human supervising ecosystem drives reflection on involvement of man in his living place. The presentation uses field research case study about an old Lithuanian woman who is running rural way of life that continues traditional oral culture. The case reveals inter-subjective relationship between the woman and her non-human environment. The plants as well as animals are treated by traditional consciousness as having awareness, and are able to communicate it with human. The both species can remember the past and anticipate the future. Human and non-human are treated as active partners or fellow participants as they all are involved in the same world. Such approach to non-human is supported by Lithuanian folklore, for example, songs that split in two parallel animal's and human's branches, folk believes about capacities of non-human, etc. The case is treated not as a manifestation of poetic creativity but as depiction of the acknowledgment of the world. This attitude is supported by phenomenology that opens new field of experience. The Husserl's concept Paarung, Merleau-Ponty's concept la chair du monde reveal how we are interconnected like parts of one single intercorporeality.

panel P307
Places where and when species meet: human and non-human relationships in a new cultural and natural environment