When ANT meets SPIDER: Social theory for arthropods

  • Tim Ingold

Deep in the woods, amidst the undergrowth and detritus of a forest floor, two distinguished arthropods – renowned in the animal kingdom for their ingenuity and technical accomplishments – have struck up a conversation. One is ANT, the other is SPIDER. Both being philosophically inclined, their concern is to understand the world and their place in it. On this particular occasion, it is ANT’s turn to open the debate.

‘We ants’, he declares, ‘are not isolated individuals. Our brains may be no bigger than pin heads, yet we can achieve great things. Our nests are monumental mounds and our roads are highways through the forest, overrunning everything in their path. We can accomplish these feats because we collaborate. We live together in colonies, many thousand strong, sharing our food and work. In a word, we are the most social of insects’.

SPIDER, more solitary by nature, finds the idea of life in a colony hard to grasp. She admits that she would be more inclined to eat others of her kind...


Actor Network Theory Proper Context Material Presence Mating Flight Bipedal Human 
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  1. Elkins, J., 1996. The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of seeing. Simon and Schaster, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Ingold, T. 2007. Lines: A Brief History, London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySchool of Social Science, University of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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