State of the Field: Hybridity

Hybridity refers to any object that crosses a conceptual divide. The term is remarkably general and used to investigate the nature of the divide as well as the form of linkages that make the cross. One of the most famous (and relevant to me) is the separation between nature and culture. While there are many scholars that argue that no such divide exists, modern society still likes to separate the human from the habitat. Examples of important hybrid objects to nature-society relations are elk, water, forests, particular mountains, and really anything natural that has importance to society.

Perhaps the most important reason to know about hybrid objects is to be able to recognize them. Some scholars say that investigation of hybrids is the only way to understand the complicated relation between binaries such as nature and society – an understanding necessary for goals such as conservation. Another distinct benefit is that recognizing the hybrid nature of and object provides the ability to also recognize the many aspects of said object. Reversing this logic, understanding how hybrid objects are constructed and function may allow creation of new, interesting and important objects, often from the deepest parts of the imagination.

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