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Mayanthi Fernando

2018-2019

Weatherhead Fellow
Affiliation at time of award:
Associate Professor
Department. of Anthropology
University of California – Santa Cruz

Mayanthi Fernando

SuperNatureCulture: Human-Nonhuman Entanglements Beyond the Secular

Dr. Fernando’s project brings together Islamic sciences of the unseen (‘ilm al-ghayb) and recent post-humanist anthropology to ask whether “natureculture” – a reversal of the distinction between nature and the human – is better understood as “supernatureculture.” First, it examines how as work on multispecies worlds and indigenous ontologies expands the conventional separation of nature and humanity, it also reproduces the separation between natural and supernatural by delimiting other-than-humans to phenomena previously understood as natural. Second, her project seeks to expand what counts as nature – and to blur the distinction between natural and supernatural – by using insights from Islamic traditions of ‘ilm al-ghayb to reconsider how we might think about and know non-material beings with whom many humans are also in relation.

Generous funding for this Fellowship provided by the Weatherhead Endowment.