In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Latin American Multispecies Studies

  • Introduction
  • General Overview
  • Bibliographies
  • Nonhumans and Environmental Aesthetics
  • Nonhumans and Ecocriticism
  • More-Than-Human Anthropology
  • Multispecies (Eco)Feminisms
  • Multispecies History(ies)
  • Plant-Human Studies
  • Water-Human Relations
  • Lively Infrastructures
  • Doctoral Dissertations
  • Other References

Latin American Studies Latin American Multispecies Studies
Azucena Castro, Oscar Sebastian Tellini
  • LAST REVIEWED: 20 February 2024
  • LAST MODIFIED: 20 February 2024
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0289


The multispecies studies considered here include relations between humans and nonhumans, as elaborated in Latin American cultural studies. Cultural approaches to multispecies relations began in the late 1990s in branches of anthropology and Indigenous studies that started to question the separation between humans and nonhumans, nature and culture, organic and inorganic inherited from Western modernity. The definition of species started to be contested, and alternative terms emerged as “the living” and “life-forms” to decenter the human as an object of study. Embodied and affective approaches to animals, plants, water, soil, and microbes began to articulate alternative modes of knowledge in art, theory, and criticism to challenge speciesism and anthropocentrism. As an emerging area, multispecies studies is an open field that embraces the nonhuman turn through a wide range of sources in philosophy, anthropology, geography, political ecology, and media studies in intersections with zoology, botanic, geology, hydrology, and mineralogy. “The multispecies turn” in culture rejects human exceptionalism to consider forms of co-constitution and horizontal relations with nonhumans in society. Latin American cultural studies bring a unique contribution to inter and multispecies relations, arguing that they are sites of identity formation, power relations, and resistance. The colonial and extractivist history in the region has shaped the variety of Latin American cultural perceptions and approaches to nonhumans. The inter- and transdisciplinary field of multispecies studies in Latin America elaborates post-anthropocentric perspectives by drawing on a wide range of emerging disciplines in the environmental humanities, animal and plant studies, Indigenous philosophy, more-than-human anthropology, climate justice, posthumanism, and ecofeminism. Its publications are still fragmented, and studies applying a multispecies approach to cultural studies in Latin America are found in a variety of anthologies and publications that deal with a great diversity of issues, mostly socio-environmental and cultural. A number of books, articles, special issues, and chapters that focus on the role of multi-cross-inter interspecies relationality are shaping this emerging field in Latin America. Much of the scholarship tends to focus on cultural relations between humans and particular nonhumans (animal, plant, water bodies); however, scholarship that considers relations between and across diverse life forms is also emerging in climate justice studies, feminist studies, anthropology, architecture, biopolitics and political ecology in Latin American studies. The authors of this article wish to thank Ximena Briceño, Sophie Esch, Ernesto Semán, and the anonymous reviewers.

General Overview

A series of books addressing relations between humans and nonhumans in a variety of cultural products constitute key references in the field. These references represent crucial studies within the diverse branches of multispecies studies in Latin America, namely nonhumans in environmental aesthetics and ecocriticism, and in Latin American animal and plant studies. A broad compilation of essays on the rich variety of cultural products addressing human-nonhuman relations is offered in Bollington and Merchant 2020. Andermann 2018 presents a theoretically dense study of the emergence of nonhumans in a broad corpus of cultural products that disrupt the politics of landscape. A more specific posthuman focus on nonhumans in cinema is provided in Fornoff and Heffes 2021. Giorgi 2014 and Yelin 2020 are compelling studies on the animal and animality in the Latin American cultural archive from the 20th to the 21st century. The special issue Bravo, et al. 2013 offers an encompassing approach to the question of species with a focus on animality in Latin America. Wylie 2020 provides a literary focus on plants and humans from the colonial period to the present, and Miller 2019 offers situated insights into multispecies ethnography based on human-plant relations from Brazilian studies.

  • Andermann, Jens. Tierras en trance: Arte y naturaleza después del paisaje. Santiago: Metales Pesados, 2018.

    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctvckq6jk

    This book is a theoretically dense reflection on how Latin American art, since the beginning of the 20th century, has been shaping ideas about nature beyond the landscape form inherited from Western modernity. The study shows how a vast array of materials (gardens, visual art, architecture, poetry) from regionalism to bioart exhibit forms of earthly entrancement that entangle the history of environmental aesthetics with the history of extractivist violence in Latin America.

  • Bollington, Lucy, and Paul Merchant. Latin American Culture and the Limits of the Human. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2020.

    DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683401490.001.0001

    This anthology of essays offers a broad panorama of how literary and visual works engage with the boundaries between humans and nonhumans to illuminate race, gender, and socio-environmental inequalities. The “cultural productions at the edge of the human” analyzed from a posthuman perspective in this study offer approaches to testimonies in the Necrocene, animal, and plant entanglements, and horizontal ecological thinking in the Latin American cultural context.

  • Bravo, Alvaro F., Fermín Rodriguez, and Gabriel Giorgi, eds. “Bio/Zoo.” É-misférica 10.1 (2013)

    This special issue deals with the notion of species and their interactions from the frame of biopolitics and posthumanism. By presenting philosophical and cultural reflections on what species are and how interactions between species can be understood, this pioneering work in the field addresses questions of domination, governance, and frontiers based on claims of biological life combining understandings of biopolitics from global philosophical thoughts and from Latin American genealogies of thought.

  • Fornoff, Carolyn, and Gisela Heffes. Pushing Past the Human in Latin American Cinema. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2021.

    This compilation of critical studies analyzes an underexplored series of Latin American cinema in connection with socio-environmental issues, drawing on recent theories of posthumanism and ecocriticism. The central question that underlies the fourteen essays concerns the techniques used in contemporary Latin American films to destabilize the myth of human exceptionalism.

  • Giorgi, Gabriel. Formas comunes: animalidad, cultura, biopolítica. Buenos Aires: Eterna Cadencia Editora, 2014.

    This pioneering work is a thought-provoking study about how the animal in 20th- and 21st-century literature builds a continuum with other life forms and marginalized human communities, thus disrupting the modern imaginary that divides human from nonhuman, nature from culture. The study offers a compelling argument about the animal presence as a performative and disruptive force that is inscribed in the modern literary archive in Latin America.

  • Miller, Theresa L. Plant Kin: A Multispecies Ethnography in Indigenous Brazil. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2019.

    With focus on the Brazilian Cerrado, the author carries out a multispecies ethnography that reveals plant-human relations that diverge from Western epistemologies. By employing a sensory ethnobotanical approach, the author identifies that for the Canela people, gardening, planting, and the transmission of gardening knowledge across generations are practices intertwining plants and humans in ways that can contribute to renewing the understanding of conservation and resilience.

  • Wylie, Lesley. The Poetics of Plants in Spanish American Literature. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020.

    This foundational work in the field offers “plant-centered readings” to reveal the emergence of vegetal life in botanical imagery as crucial in the Latin American cultural archive from the 19th century to the present. The identification of the central role of plants in literary imagination draws on Indigenous animism and allows the author to propose that environmental thinking and human-nonhuman relations in Latin America have been historically mediated by way of plants in the region.

  • Yelin, Julieta. Biopoéticas para las biopolíticas. El pensamiento literario latinoamericano ante la cuestión animal. Pittsburgh, PA: Latin American Research Commons, 2020.

    DOI: 10.25154/book4

    The book discusses 20th- and 21st-century Latin American literary works that defy the human-animal division. From posthuman and biopolitical frameworks, this study addresses blurred corporal and affective boundaries between humans and animals to question the biopolitical hierarchies and to propose horizontal relationships between the living. This transdisciplinary study offers the notion of “biopoetics” as a way to understand how literary writing elaborates on the living.

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