"Following Fungi's Lead"
an Interview with Dr. Michael J. Hathaway
in American Ethnologist and Tying Knots
Michael Hathaway recently published his book What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make (2022) with Princeton University Press. The book is the second monograph in the planned trilogy of Matsutake Worlds Research Group (MWRG), led by Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (2015). Hathaway’s new work explores the possibility of seeing Matsutake as beings that actively make their own worlds, illuminating ways to rethink biological knowledge production, planetary history, and global connections. In this interview, Hathaway provides insight into his fascinating research and writing endeavors, his engagement with key theoretical concepts like agency, and his thoughts on recent shifts within the discipline of anthropology. He also offers fieldwork-related advice to junior scholars.
This essay has been simultaneously published in English and Chinese.
ABOUT THIS EPISODE:
In this episode, host Megan Cole talks to Michael Hathaway. Michael's book What A Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make won the 2023 Jim Deva Prize for Writing that Provokes, and was a finalist for the 2023 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize. In their conversation, Michael talks about human exceptional, the varying cultural relationships to mushrooms, and how he made his book accessible to a non-academic audience.
Visit BC and Yukon Book Prizes: bcyukonbookprizes.com/
About WHAT A MUSHROOM LIVES FOR: bcyukonbookprizes.com/project/what-a…lds-they-make/
ABOUT MICHAEL HATHAWAY:
Michael J. Hathaway is professor of anthropology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, and the author of the award-winning Environmental Winds: Making the Global in Southwest China. He is a member of the Matsutake Worlds Research Group.
ABOUT MEGAN COLE:
Megan Cole the Director of Programming and Communications for the BC and Yukon Book Prizes. She is also a writer based on the territory of the Tla'amin Nation. Megan writes creative nonfiction and has had essays published in Chatelaine, This Magazine, The Puritan, Untethered, and more. She has her MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of King's College and is working her first book. Find out more about Megan at megancolewriter.com
ABOUT THE PODCAST:
Writing the Coast is recorded and produced on the territory of the Tla'amin Nation. As a settler on these lands, Megan Cole finds opportunities to learn and listen to the stories from those whose land was stolen. Writing the Coast is a recorded series of conversations, readings, and insights into the work of the writers, illustrators, and creators whose books are nominated for the annual BC and Yukon Book Prizes. We'll also check in on people in the writing community who are supporting books, writers and readers every day. The podcast is produced and hosted by Megan Cole.
Interview with Dr. Michael J. Hathaway in Czech
"We spoke with the anthropologist and author of the book What the Mushroom Lives For about collecting matsutake in China, free access to forests or how mushrooms communicate. We also learned what the "burnt morels" from the Canadian forests taste best with." (Translated from original Czech)
Today on Mushroom Hour we are graced by the presence of Dr. Michael J. Hathaway - Professor of Anthropology at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Associate Member of the School for International Studies, and the Director of SFU's David Lam Centre for Asian Studies. He is a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow and author of What a Mushroom Lives For (2022) and Environmental Winds (2013). Hathaway is a cultural anthropologist with two central interests. First, he is deeply interested in China’s place in the modern world, looking at how little-known dynamics there have created world-spanning effects in surprising realms such as feminism, environmentalism, and Indigenous rights. His aim is to disrupt the typical assumptions that globalization emerges solely from the West. Second, Hathaway is doing what he can to foster a transformation in scientific understandings based on colonial assumptions of the natural world. For a quarter-century, Hathaway has lived in, worked, and traveled in China and increasingly in Japan, where he has explored the entangled and emerging worlds of transnational environmentalism and Indigenous rights. More recently, Hathaway has been exploring hidden histories of Indigenous-led activism across the Pacific Rim and how they have shaped the contemporary world. Today we’re going to dive into his newest book, “What a Mushroom Lives For”.
Environmentalism and Indigenous Rights in China
The Mushroom at the End of the World
Matsutake World Research Group
New Relationships with Biology
Thinking Like a Mushroom
Matsutake’s Economic Ecosystem
The Yi People & Their Fungal Economy
Entanglements of Yaks, Mushrooms, Barley, Trees and Public Policy
How Matsutake Continually Shapes Cultures and Economies into the Future
Efforts to Cultivate Matsutake
Can Shifting Ecological Worldviews Shape the Future?
What a Mushroom Lives For is a 2023 finalist in two categories of the BC and Yukon Book Awards!
The Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize is awarded to the author(s) of the best original work of literary non-fiction.
Supported by the BC Teachers’ Federation
The Jim Deva Prize for Writing That Provokes is awarded to the author(s) and/or illustrators of an original work of published writing that challenges or provokes the ideas and forces that shape what writing, art, and/or society can become.
Supported by a generous donation by Bruce Smyth
February 13th, 2023
"This book on the enchanting worlds of mushrooms is one to add to your summer reading list." - Jocelyn Stevens, PEAK, SFU student
February 5th, 2023
FUNGI FEAR: The zombie eco-thriller “The Last of Us” has alerted us to the threats posed by fungi. But the show is not entirely science fiction. Our vulnerability to pathogenic fungi is more real than many people imagine. Find out what human activity drives global fungal threats, including their menace to food crops and many other species. Our high body temperature has long kept lethal fungi in check; but will climate change cause fungi to adapt to warmer temperatures and threaten our health? Plus, a radically new way to think about these organisms, how they make all life possible, and how we might find balance again.
Podcast features: Emily Monosson, Arturo Casadevall, and Michael Hathaway
July 4th, 2022
In this interview by Dr. Marc Bekoff's "Animal Emotions" series for Psychology Today, Dr. Michael Hathaway discusses the liveliness and world-making capacities of fungi. Dr. Hathaway invites us to challenge human exceptionalism and engage with the worlds of fungi and other non-human worlds with deep curiosity and appreciation.
antennae - summer 2022 - issue 58
What a Mushroom Lives For
In conversation: Michael J. Hathaway and Mendel Skulski
What a Mushroom Lives For, Michael J. Hathaway’s new book, pushes today’s mushroom renaissance
in compelling new directions. For centuries, Western science has promoted a human- and animal- centric framework of what counts as action, agency, movement, and behavior.
August 8th, 2022
What one mushroom tells us about war, trade, diet, and ecology.
Lightly edited excerpt from What a Mushroom Lives For.
July 26th, 2022
In this interview conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher, Dr. Hathway gives us a surprise-filled journey into science and human culture, this exciting and provocative book shows how fungi shape our planet and our lives in strange, diverse, and often unimaginable ways.
June 15th, 2022
June 15th, 2022
May 21st, 2022
April 7th, 2021
Future Ecologies Podcast
2022: In Conversation with Michael Hathaway
Available via the Future Ecologies Patreon and forthcoming in Antennae Journal (link will be posted when available)
2021: FE 3.6 - Making Sense of Each Other
Featuring Michael Hathaway, Merlin Sheldrake, and Anicka Yi
Hosted by Mendel Skulski and Adam Huggins
May 12th, 2020
"The Secret Life of Fungi" interview with Michael J. Hathaway by Isabela Vera
September 3rd, 2020
Cornell East Asia Program Conversations Podcast:
"Transforming More-than-human Economies in Southwest China: The role of the Matsutake Mushroom"
May 13th, 2016
Rice University's Culture's of Energy Podcast:
Dr. Michael Hathaway offers a different perspective on Chinese air pollution; we talk about wind as medium, metaphor and material force and about how the rise of environmental sensibility is changing politics and society in China today. What is China’s role as a global citizen?
December 28th, 2013
June 15th, 2022
Michael J. Hathaway, Spencer Greening, and Mendel Skulski
THE LIVELINESS OF ALL BEINGS
At Massy Arts Gallery What a Mushroom Lives For book launch
Massy Arts and Massy Books Present Michael Hathaway in conversation with Spencer Greening (La'goot) on the ways that Western science often limits our understandings of the many living beings we share our lives with.
The researchers discuss different mushrooms, trees, and salmon, among many other species to show what the world might look like through ways of seeing that recognize the liveliness of all things. Hathaway will draw mainly from his work with Yi peoples of Himalayan China as well as a handful of unorthodox scientists in the Global North, and Spencer from Gitga’at and other Indigenous understandings.
Agency and Relating to The Species Around Us
Laws of The Natural World
May 10th, 2022
Michael J. Hathaway Presents: What a Mushroom Lives For
In conversation with Willoughby Arevalo and Mendel Skulski
THINKING ABOUT FUNGAL AGENCY
Vancouver Mycological Society Meeting
VMS member Michael J. Hathaway draws from his recently published book What a Mushroom Lives For, the second book in an academic trilogy that began with Anna L. Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World.
Moving from fungi as an enigmatic kingdom that transformed the ancient Earth to the realm of the fascinating matsutake mushroom on the Tibetan Plateau, Hathaway reveals the ways these mushrooms are creating their own multispecies encounters, with and without humans. This book challenges a legacy of human exceptionalism and human supremacy that is dominant in Western thinking and offers ways to notice the creative liveliness of all organisms, from mammals to mushrooms.