Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations

Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations

Co-edited by Gavin Van Horn, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and John Hausdoerffer

We live in an astounding world of relations. We share these ties that bind with our fellow humans—and we share these relations with nonhuman beings as well. From the bacterium swimming in your belly to the trees exhaling the breath you breathe, this community of life is our kin—and, for many cultures around the world, being human is based upon this extended sense of kinship.

Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations is a lively series that explores our deep interconnections with the living world. These five Kinship volumes—Planet, Place, Partners, Persons, Practice—offer essays, interviews, poetry, and stories of solidarity, highlighting the interdependence that exists between humans and nonhuman beings. More than 70 contributors—including Robin Wall Kimmerer, Richard Powers, David Abram, J. Drew Lanham, and Sharon Blackie—invite readers into cosmologies, narratives, and everyday interactions that embrace a more-than-human world as worthy of our response and responsibility. These diverse voices render a wide range of possibilities for becoming better kin.

From the recognition of nonhumans as persons to the care of our kinfolk through language and action, Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations is a guide and companion into the ways we can deepen our care and respect for the family of plants, rivers, mountains, animals, and others who live with us in this exuberant, life-generating, planetary tangle of relations.

Purchase Options

The Kinship Book Series comprises five volumes (listed below, with a framing question that animates each respective volume).

Vol. 1. – Planet
Cosmic/Elemental/Planetary Kinship
Contributors: David Abram, Ginny Battson, Marcia Bjornerud, Brenda Cárdenas, Ceridwen Dovey, Marcelo Gleiser, Art Goodtimes, Sean Hill, Robin Wall Kimmerer, J. Drew Lanham, Manulani Aluli Meyer, Steve Paulson, Craig Santos Perez, Heather Swan, Bron Taylor, Andrew S. Yang

With every breath, every sip of water, every meal, we are reminded that our lives are inseparable from the life of the world—and the cosmos—in ways both material and spiritual. What are the sources of our deepest evolutionary and planetary connections, and of our profound longing for kinship? 

Watch the Kinship Book Club discussion of Vol. 1: Planet

Vol. 2 ­– Place

Bioregional Kinship
Contributors: Aaron Abeyta, Bethany Barratt, Elizabeth Bradfield, Art Goodtimes, John Hausdoerffer, Sean Hill, Lisa María Madera, Curt Meine, Gary Paul Nabhan, Melissa Nelson, Lillian Pearce, Devon G. Peña, Craig Santos Perez, Enrique Salmón, Gavin Van Horn, Diane Wilson

Given the place-based circumstances of human evolution and culture, global consciousness may be too broad a scale of care for us. To what extent does crafting a deeper connection with the Earth’s bioregions reinvigorate a sense of kinship with the place-based beings, systems, and communities that mutually shape one another?

Watch the Kinship Book Club discussion of Vol. 2: Place

Vol. 3 – Partners

Interspecies Kinship
Contributors: Sharon Blackie, Nickole Brown, Brenda Cárdenas, Ourania Emmanouil, Monica Gagliano, Anne Galloway, Sean Hill, Julian Hoffman, Tim Ingold, Toby McLeod, Martin Lee Mueller, Steve Paulson, Richard Powers, Merlin Sheldrake, Eleanor Sterling, Heather Swan, Manon Voice, Rowen White

How do cultural traditions, narratives, and mythologies shape the ways we relate, or not, to other beings as kin? How do relations between and among different species foster a sense of responsibility and belonging in us?

Watch the Kinship Book Club discussion of Vol. 3: Partners

Vol. 4 – Persons

Interpersonal Kinship
Contributors: Elizabeth Bradfield, Brian Calvert, Brenda Cárdenas, Shannon Gibney, Graham Harvey, Lyanda Fern Lynn Haupt, John Hausdoerffer, Brooke Hecht, Liam Heneghan, Andy Letcher, Freya Mathews, Daegan Miller, Susan Richardson, Kimberley Ruffin, David Taylor, Manon Voice, Andreas Weber, Brooke Williams, Orrin Williams

Kinship spans the cosmos, but it is perhaps most life changing when experienced directly and personally. Which experiences expand our understanding of being human in relation to other-than-human beings? How can we respectfully engage a world full of human and nonhuman persons?

Watch the Kinship Book Club discussion of Vol. 4: Persons

Vol. 5 – Practice

Kinship Practices and Ethics
Contributors: Sharon Blackie, Nickole Brown, Sunil Chauhan, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Tom Fleischner, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Matthew Hall, John Hausdoerffer, Trebbe Johnson, Robin Wall Kimmerer, María Isabel Morales, Ajay Rastogi, Jill Riddell, Enrique Salmón, Amba Sepie, Heather Swan, Maya Ward, Kyle Whyte, Orrin Williams, Anthony Zaragoza

From the perspective of kinship as a recognition of nonhuman personhood, of kincentric ethics, and of kinship as a verb involving active and ongoing participation, how are we to live? What are the practical, everyday, and lifelong ways we become kin?

About the co-editors:

Gavin Van Horn is the Creative Director and Executive Editor for the Center for Humans and Nature. His writing is tangled up in the ongoing conversation between humans, our nonhuman kin, and the animate landscape. He is the co-editor (with John Hausdoerffer) of Wildness: Relations of People and Place, co-editor (with Dave Aftandilian) of City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness, and the author of The Way of Coyote: Shared Journeys in the Urban Wilds

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, botanist, writer, and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York, and the founding Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. She is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a student of the plant nations. Her writings include Gathering Moss and Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. As a writer and a scientist, her interests include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land. She lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens domestic and wild.

John Hausdoerffer, jhausdoerffer.com, is author of Catlin’s Lament: Indians, Manifest Destiny, and the Ethics of Nature as well as co-author and co-editor of Wildness: Relations of People and Place and What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want to Be? John is the Dean of the School of Environment & Sustainability at Western Colorado University and co-founder of Coldharbour Institute, the Center for Mountain Transitions, and the Resilience Studies Consortium. John serves as a Fellow and Senior Scholar for the Center for Humans and Nature. 

Praise for Kinship

"Kinship is the type of series I would want to gift to my wild, untamed, and unschooled children, for from its pages springs an education at the end of homogenous time, a crack in the tarmac of ascension, an insurgency of the hitherto invisible. At a time when the human is no longer tenable as a category unto itself, we will need the prophetic voices of these poets, philosophers, mothers, fathers, scientists, thinkers, public intellectuals, artists, and awestruck fugitives to kindle a politics of humility, to help us fall down to earth from our gilded perches, to help us stray from the threatening familiarity of our own image. It is time to meet the others we imagined we left behind: this constellation of stars will guide us."
—Bayo Akomolafe, PhD, These Wilds Beyond Our Fences
"Kinship is essential reading. Five books of elemental grace and charm, beginning with a spider's web. Each strand glistens in the sunlight, dreaming, catch and release, a journey through the multiverse. Each gathering of words, a page, a tribe, a story of who we are, who we have been, and who we've yet to become, shiny, bright, new, and very old. The DNA of rock and stone, of all our relations, the chemistry of breathing, letting go, and Love. Again, again, and again."
—John Francis, PhD, Planetwalker: 17 Years of Silence, 22 Years of Walking
"The Kinship series upends colonial paradigms around humans and our relationship with more-than-human nature. These paradigms have driven mainstream environmental movements to engage in myopic efforts that at times have exacerbated ecological imbalances. Through stories, essays, art, poetry, and more, contributors chip away at the layers that bind our collective colonial ethos. Rather than owning nature, we are urged to think about our kinship with all that is nonhuman. Rather than controlling our environments using methods rooted in human exceptionalism (i.e., we know best), we are urged to learn from our kin. Rather than 'using' land, water, and wildlife as 'natural resources,' we are urged to be in reciprocity and right relationship with our kin. Rather than labeling birds, rocks, and rivers as 'it,' we are urged to think of them as persons who have their own rights. Rather than being static, we are urged to be kinetic (Kin-etic?). Decolonization begins with unlearning, and this is a good place to begin."
—Aparna Rajagopal (she/her), founding partner of the Avarna Group and cofounder of PGM ONE Summit
"At a time when divisive politics and human-first ideologies dominate public discourse, Kinship provides a deeply-moving, soul-rejuvenating, and course-correcting primer for recognizing and building relationships among all living things. Here readers will find solace in essays and poems about what we’re losing, as well as inspiration for how to live well with other humans—and with our other-than-human kin. But Kinship is more than instructive. Taken together, these exquisite volumes are a balm for the soul."
—Dr. Amy Brady, Executive Director, Orion
"Essential reading about the question of our time: how to belong. A chorus of beautiful, wise, grieving, exulting, and generative voices, guiding us into true ‘family values’ for a wild living Earth. These collections offer rare and rich insight into how to find, honor, and heal the bonds of blood, place, time, and ethics that knit us to all other beings."
—David Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen and The Songs of Trees
"Sometimes when we are working with a document, when it’s growing and changing, we call it 'live.' Likewise, this book is live. It’s full of life. It’s living inside you as you read it and you are living inside it. It’s changing you and you’re changing it. May this book be a living document that guides us toward love and care for all kin."
—Janisse Ray, author of Wild Spectacle
"This collection is a passionate call to turn towards the living Earth with reverence and respect, and in so doing to cultivate new and old forms of curiosity, of understanding, and of responsibility. Ultimately, this is a collection that does much more than simply describe the webs of relationship that are our world of kin. At the same time, it invites and at times pulls the reader into a sense of the fundamental sharedness of all life and our profound obligations, perhaps now more than ever, to hold open room for others to be and to become in their own unique and precious ways."
—Thom van Dooren, author of The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds
"The wonderful essays gathered here will stir minds and open hearts with the reminder that kinship is about how all things are connected, and that these relationships are best when acknowledged, attended to, and above all, savored."
—Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix
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