The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Paperback)

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The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins By Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing Cover Image

The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Paperback)


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The Mushroom at the End of the World is some of the most compelling anthropology I’ve ever read.
Tsing traces the history of the matsutake mushroom (which, having tasted one, absolutely lives up to the hype) across multiple cultures, focalizing its uses in contemporary gift economies and markets, and beyond.
In these pages there are stories about forgotten, displaced people, abandoned and protected landscapes, and a light, digestible introduction to mycology.
There’s also a story, here, about what happens when people get together to salvage what has been discarded by the global circuits of capital. It’s lurking, but it’s beautiful. Plus, when you’re done, you can read the spiritual sequel, What A Mushroom Lives For!

— Bee

What a rare mushroom can teach us about sustaining life on a fragile planet

Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world--and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the northern hemisphere. Through its ability to nurture trees, matsutake helps forests to grow in daunting places. It is also an edible delicacy in Japan, where it sometimes commands astronomical prices. In all its contradictions, matsutake offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: what manages to live in the ruins we have made?

A tale of diversity within our damaged landscapes, The Mushroom at the End of the World follows one of the strangest commodity chains of our times to explore the unexpected corners of capitalism. Here, we witness the varied and peculiar worlds of matsutake commerce: the worlds of Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, industrial forests, Yi Chinese goat herders, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions also lead us into fungal ecologies and forest histories to better understand the promise of cohabitation in a time of massive human destruction.

By investigating one of the world's most sought-after fungi, The Mushroom at the End of the World presents an original examination into the relation between capitalist destruction and collaborative survival within multispecies landscapes, the prerequisite for continuing life on earth.
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing is professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Friction and In the Realm of the Diamond Queen (both Princeton).
Product Details ISBN: 9780691220550
ISBN-10: 0691220557
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication Date: June 8th, 2021
Pages: 352
Language: English