Volume 5, Issue 2, Fall 2008
Species of Thought
A World of Difference
The Lure of Plants in Gary Paul Nabhan
Recent efforts among environmental theorists to think past human alienation from nature have made the question of the animal central, as Agamben and Derrida have shown. Expanding this question beyond the concern with suffering, Donna Haraway’s investigations of companion species take seriously the interspecies relations of work, play, and joy. The engagement of plant-human coevolution in the work of ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan complicates these questions, revealing the porous boundaries between human cultures and the plant companions that sustain them. This essay proposes Nabhan’s work as a response to Haraway’s questions, exploring four mutually constitutive relations between humans and plants: lures, tricks, grief, and sacrament.