Life and death in the multispecies commons

Marcus Baynes-Rock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The multispecies commons is the kind of place in which human-animal entanglements are made most explicit. It is where social, biological and historical processes are so inextricably entwined with wider ecological processes as to be inseparable. Here I describe one such place: the area outside a gate in the ancient, defensive wall around the historic city of Harar, Ethiopia. It was at this place that a solitary, poisoned hyena set in motion a series of events which culminated in a conflict between two hyena clans; a conflict in which the local humans were participants. To gain an understanding of the events I follow the threads of histories, landscapes, territoriality and social engagement between species to reveal how this place demands interdisciplinary study. It dramatically exemplifies the ways in which humans and non-humans are entangled in more-than-social processes through which they co-shape each others' worlds. The multispecies commons explicitly deconstructs limited conceptions of the social and weaves them back together with multiple other threads that coalesce to create a greater, tangled web of ecological processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-227
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Science Information
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • human–animal relations
  • multispecies commons
  • mutual co-shaping
  • socio-ecology
  • spotted hyenas


Dive into the research topics of 'Life and death in the multispecies commons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this