Fundació Fórum Universal de les Cultures
cat | esp | eng
< Volver

¿Tienen las reacciones a los insectos una base cultural?

Get Adobe Flash player

Hugh Raffles

Profesor de antropología en The New School de Nueva York (EEUU)

Profesor de Antropología en The New School de Nueva York (EEUU).
Hugh Raffles es Profesor en The New School de Nueva York (EEUU). Creció en Londres, Inglaterra, y empezó a dar clases de antropología después de dedicarse a conducir ambulancias, ser DJ en discotecas, técnico de teatro, ayudante de camarero, de trabajar en servicios de limpieza y en una chatarrería de metal.
Sus escritos han aparecido en revistas académicas y en medios más populares, incluyendo el New York Times, Granta, Natural History, Orion, y The Best American Essays. Su primer libro, In Amazonia: A Natural History (Princeton University Press, 2002), ganó el premio Victor Turner de escritura etnográfica y fue elegido por la Asociación de Bibliotecas Americanas como un ‘Título Académico Excepcional’.
En 2009 recibió el premio Whiting Writers. Su último libro, Insectopedia (Pantheon, 2010), presenta una exploración de la conexiones entre las personas y los insectos en una gran variedad de tiempos y lugares. El New York Times lo describió como ‘milagroso’ e ‘imposible de categorizar, locamente alusivo y siempre estimulante’.
Are reactions to insects culturally based?

“Insects” is an incredibly broad category of animals. It includes everything from giant beetles to the tiniest flies, flies so small that we can barely see them. So it’s not surprising that reactions to insects are varied.

But even though they’re varied, they’re nearly always intense, visceral even. Whether positive or negative, our responses seem to share this characteristic of being intense.

So why would that be? Well, I think there are certain characteristics of insects themselves that provoke this. They tend to be small. They tend to move fast. They exist in unimaginably large numbers. Their behavior is unpredictable. And they don’t keep their distance. They get too close to us physically. They can get on top of us. They can even get inside us. They can get into our most intimate places. And there really isn’t very much we can do about that! Some of them are also dangerous, although, ironically, those are often not the ones we’re most scared of. And, most importantly, in my opinion, they’re emotionally and psychologically unrecognizable: They’re as different from humans as an animal could possible be and we don’t have very good ways of making sense of them. We actually don’t have any good ways of getting close to them or of finding connection to them, in the way that we do with many other animals. They always seem to be indifferent to us and we’re just somehow, I think, at a loss to know what to do with them.

Yet, despite this, there’s a lot of variation in how we respond to individual types of insects. And that variation is both historical and cultural.

There are many examples of what seem to be unconventional attitudes to insects. A famous one is the way that Jains and Buddhists, who share a general reverence for life that stems from a belief in reincarnation, go to great lengths to avoid harming insects in any way. Another example — actually, my favorite — is houseflies. Up until about a hundred years ago, houseflies were regarded almost as household pets. They were welcomed into homes and mothers were encouraged to have their children play with them, to make friends with them, to actually have them around them when they were eating. It was only with the discovery of germ theory at the beginning of the twentieth century that our attitudes to houseflies changed completely and they started to be regarded as dangerous animals, and there were campaigns to eradicate them.

Contemporary urban culture is characterized by a desire to control our environment and space, a desire for purity and hygiene, to manage nature, to make it as predictable as possible, and to eradicate disruptive elements. Perhaps that’s why insects are viewed so negatively. Because they’re really extremely hard to control. They’re just very difficult!

So, to answer the question: Yes, in my view, reactions to insects are culturally-based. They’re also historically-based. And they’re also very contextual.
Relacionados

¿Cómo está cambiando Internet las bases de mi negocio?

David Weinberger

¿En última instancia, no responde todo a una estigmatización de lo que es diferente?

Susan Buck-Morss

La filantropía, ¿virtud u obligación?

Peter Singer

¿Cuál es el papel de la filosofía en la vida cotidiana?

Tim Maudlin

¿Por qué todavía enseñamos a los escolares a calcular manualmente?

Conrad Wolfram

¿Es la investigación de mercado un desperdicio de dinero?

Philip Graves

Ver más videos relacionados