I have just composed or rather edited the abstract below, for an invited article to a forthcoming special issue of Biosemiotics.
Current human ecology in light of Umwelt theory: Human–animal interaction in Amazonas and beyond
Author: Morten Tønnessen
Umwelt theory is an expression of Uexküll´s subjective biology and as such it is usually applied in analysis of individual animals, but the theory is fundamentally relational and therefore also suitable for analysis of more complex wholes. In this article I explore to what extent ecosemiotics can be applied in analysis of global human ecology.
I portray the human species as a global speciesthat gives rise to multiple ecologies built around our presence. Towards many species, we behave like an unsustainable super-predator, and we reserve land for our affiliated species. We also affect the experience and behaviour of animals by causing environmental changes in land, water and air, by influencing prey densities and the occurrence of natural enemies, etc. To understand our changing relations to living beings and nature, we must be aware of the different forms relations can take on e.g. for wild, liminal and domesticated animals. Aiming to outline some of the most important characteristics of contemporary human ecology, I apply notions such as Umwelt transition, Umwelt trajectory, Umwelt aggregate, andUmwelt alignment.
The article includes a case study of human–animal relations in Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve in the Central Amazonas. This is a seasonal floodplain forest area surrounded by rivers in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. I investigate human–human and human–animal interaction in the reserve, with a main focus on indigenous communities and their relations to two primate species, namely the red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus) and the black-headed squirrel monkey (Saimiri vanzolinii).