Deep History, Interspecies Coevolution, and the Eco-imaginary

  • Louise Westling
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


The recent turn to deep history reveals an interrelational story of hominin emergence among myriad other living creatures, full of bodily intimacies, shared habitats, and interspecific cultural communications. This essay examines studies of coevolution, symbiosis, and mimicry expressing pervasive intersubjectivity that are increasingly acknowledged by biologists and biosemioticians. Traditional oral narratives, rituals, and early literary texts encode sedimented evolutionary histories of such relationships, preserving and continuing memories that are semiotic scaffoldings of cultural mimicry, mirroring and mapping the living world where our ancestors saw themselves in dynamic interrelation with the other animal species around them. These constitute an eco-imaginary expressing the human participation in coevolved animality that Merleau-Ponty saw as the logos of the sensible world.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louise Westling
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OregonEugeneUSA

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