Episode 37 – Idioms of Normality hosted by Dr. Paul H. Mason

Episode 37 - Idioms of Normality hosted by Dr. Paul H. Mason

Indigenous know better

Will indigenous wisdom revolutionise our understanding? This is podcast episode 37 of Idioms of Normality. A series hosted by Dr. Paul Mason for #futureframedTV, the collective podcast of Traces&Dreams.

Is it normal to talk to plants? In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul talks with Dr Sophie Chao whose fieldwork experiences among the Marind of West Papua prompted deep reflection on who and what is normal.

The Marind people are being displaced by deforestation and the spread of palm oil plantations, which highlights the urgency of understanding their lifeworlds. A pivotal moment during Sohpie’s time conducting fieldwork with the Marind came when she realised that people were not always gossiping about people but were casually discussing the actions and attributes of nonhumans including plants and animals.

Sophie discovered that the Marind discuss other organisms in the forest the same way that we might talk about siblings, friends and acquaintances. In true ethnographic style, Sophie’s fieldwork prompts us to reflect if we in the West are the abnormal ones looking to destroy forests and replace them with monocrops and if perhaps if the world would be a better place if ways of being in the world such as those of the Marind were, in fact, the normal.

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