Ecocriticism and "Thinking with Writing": An Interview with Tim Ingold


  • Antonia Spencer Independent scholar
  • Tim Ingold University of Aberdeen



Tim Ingold, Anthopology, Literature, Ecology, Materiality


      Over the course of an influential career spanning several decades, Tim Ingold, Professor Emeritus at the University of Aberdeen, has established himself as a preeminent voice in the field of Social Anthropology. Author of studies including The Perception of the Environment (2000), Being Alive (2011) and The Life of Lines (2015), this interview was inspired by the potential of his wide-ranging scholarship to unearth some fascinating avenues for research in literary studies. The breadth of his writing on habitation, perception and skilled practice, suggests myriad applications for his thinking beyond the purely anthropological, and particularly for bridging the concerns of literary and environmental studies. The philosophical depth of his work, apparent in his analyses of processes of growth and formation in both biological and socio-cultural domains (indeed questioning the supposed divisions between these fields), proves that his scholarship provides a refreshing counter-narrative to many prevailing schools of thought in current literary theory, especially to much of the discourse of New Materialism and Speculative Realism. In addition, this interview contains his views regarding certain emerging issues in literary studies, such as the material practices of reading, and the ascendency of the computer screen over the printed book, areas where his anthropological perspective is both stimulating and revealing. As a renowned scholar who has recently surveyed the changes in the academy and in disciplinary relationships throughout his long career, his observations provide valuable insights into the capability of the arts to guide us into a wider, more interconnected world. Crucially, his responses also speak to the world of academia, and how we can foster a practical awareness of ecological issues within the often-rarefied spheres of academic research and practice.


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Author Biographies

Antonia Spencer, Independent scholar

Antonia Spencer is an independent postdoctoral scholar based in the UK. She has recently been awarded her AHRC-funded doctorate in Literary Studies from Lancaster University, for her thesis titled ‘From Walter Scott to Cormac McCarthy: Scottish Romanticism and the Novel from the American South’. Her central research interests are in Scottish literature, Transatlantic Literature, literary theory and the interface between literature and Anthropology.

Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen

Tim Ingold is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, and a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Following 25 years at the University of Manchester, Ingold moved in 1999 to Aberdeen, where he established the UK’s newest Department of Anthropology. Ingold has carried out ethnographic fieldwork among Saami and Finnish people in Lapland, and has written on environment, technology and social organisation in the circumpolar North, on the role of animals in human society, on issues in human ecology, and on evolutionary theory in anthropology, biology and history. In his more recent work, he has explored the links between environmental perception and skilled practice, focusing on questions of movement, knowledge and description. His current research is situated at the interface between anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. He is the author of The Perception of the Environment (2000), Lines (2007), Being Alive (2011), Making (2013) The Life of Lines (2015), Anthropology and/as Education (2017) and Anthropology: Why it Matters (2018).






Articles: New Ecocritical Practices