Golden animals: A lyric essay on animacy and resilience

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amidst crises of species loss and climate collapse, it is heartening to recall that a dialogue about global history, the animacy of the world, and the place of human beings within it is unfinished and ongoing. When I travel for fieldwork in Saraguro, Ecuador, different subjects push to the fore. With my friends Benigno, Ana Victoria, and the members of the women's cooperative Las Mujeres de Teresa de Calcuta as my primary collaborators, we have together explored beadwork and the practice of art in the unfolding of identity for Indigenous people in the transnational world; differing rhythms of agricultural work in Ecuador and the United States; biological diversity and invasive species; cultivating cross-cultural knowing, and more. In 2017, Benigno directed my attention to golden animals tales he had heard from others, and from his own life. When Benigno and other community members tell these stories, they embody ideas about the persistence of history and icons of power from the past. The theme of his story revolves around animate energies embedded in the natural and cultural landscapes in which he dwells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-200
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
As always, I acknowledge my gratitude for the support and collaboration of Manuel Benigno Cango, Ana Victoria Sarango, the women of the Teresa de Calcuta women’s cooperative, and my other Saraguro friends. Thank you to Jennifer Goméz Menjívar for providing the English translation of the passage from Saraguro scholar María Sisa Bacacela Gualán’s book. I’m grateful for comments from three anonymous reviewers for Anthropologica, as they pointed me toward the final form of this essay. Funding for my research in Saraguro has been provided by the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) College of Liberal Arts, the UMD Office of the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, and the University of Minnesota Provost’s Imagine Fund. Thanks also to the UMD International Education Office for supporting the 2017 “Exploring Culture and Sustainability in Ecuador” study abroad program.


  • Animacy
  • Animals
  • Ethnographic poetry
  • Gold
  • Saraguro (Ecuador)
  • Storytelling

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