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Research Seminar – Shiho Satsuka: “Translation in the World Multiple”

February 26, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Bio: Shiho Satsuka is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Her research concerns the politics of knowledge about “nature”. In particular, she is interested in how divergent understandings of “nature” are produced, circulated, contested and transformed in translocal interactions shaped by the global expansion of capitalism. In her first book, Nature in Translation: Japanese Tourism Encounters the Canadian Rockies (2015), she analyzes how a particular version of “ecology” became hegemonic in transnational tourist encounters in Canadian national parks while also attending to its instability. Her current book project, tentatively titled The Charisma of Wild Mushrooms: Reassembling Science and Economy in Changing Ecologies, examines the social role of scientists in the emerging global scientific and commercial networks associated with matsutake, a wild mushroom highly valued in Japan and exported from many countries around the world, including Canada. In particular, she is interested in the relationship between “artificial cultivation” research and forest revitalization movements, the politics of translation between expert science and other forms of knowledge, and the emerging discourses of “new commons” that envision alternative social and human-nonhuman relations. This research is also part of “Matsutake Worlds”, a collaborative, multi-sited ethnographic project.

Title: Translation in the World Multiple

Abstract: This chapter traces interspecies and intraspecies translation processes in the recent government-led research project aimed at the “artificial cultivation” of matsutake in Japan. While centuries of efforts have been made, this fungus has evaded human efforts to deliberately produce its mushroom. The recent artificial cultivation project has been shaped by the particular social and environmental predicaments – a severe consequence of the rapid industrialization in twentieth century Japan – and the government’s intention of revitalizing the country’s economic and ecological vitality. At the same time, close ethnographic attention to the scientists’ translation practices also suggests the possibility of unfolding the current coordination of science and economy and the different ways that the world might be coordinated with interspecies care and attunement. The scientists’ practices elucidate that they are simultaneously engaging with multiple translation processes whose consequences could be potentially in conflict. The multidimensionality of their practices suggests the complex quotidian politics among various world making practices.


February 26, 2020
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


IHPST Common Room
VC 303, Victoria College