Episode 131: Interview with French anthropologist Professor Philippe Descola on our relationship with nature

In this fascinating interview,  leading anthropologist Professor Philippe Descola discusses his latest book Beyond Nature and Culture—exploring the different ways mankind relate to nature. In this book, Professor Descola identifies four key ways in which different societies have thought about nature over time-animism, totemism, analogism, and our current relationship: naturalism, a strict separation between the cultural worlds of human beings, on the one hand, and the non-human things of nature, on the other. Professor Descola discusses how we can, and must today, learn from other ways of connecting to nature, how they can inspire us as a society. Notwithstanding what he sees as a deeply challenging time, Professor Descola finds inspiration in the activism of young people-and emerging approaches embodied in the Zones a Defendre (ZADS) in France. 


Philippe Descola is a French anthropologist with a reputation as one of the most important anthropologists working today. He held the chair of Anthropology of Nature at the Collège de France between 2000-2019 and is a fellow of the British Academy and a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts. His most recent book Beyond Nature and Culture has been hugely influential, exploring the ways in which different societies have thought about our relationship with nature over time.