Joshua Berson

Visiting Scholar (Dez 2020-Mai 2022)


Josh Berson’s career has been one of disciplinary and institutional arbitrage, guided by an abiding concern with the ecology of sentience and the evolution of culture. He holds a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, jointly supervised in History and Sociology of Science and Anthropology. He has held appointments, inter alia, at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Berggruen Institute, where he was inaugural USC Berggruen Fellow in the Transformations of the Human. He is the author of The Human Scaffold (Oakland: University of California Press, 2021), The Meat Question (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2019), and Computable Bodies (London: Bloomsbury, 2015).

At the MPIWG Berson is pursuing two new projects, both departing from the concerns that animate the final third of The Human Scaffold. One will find expression in a work of more-or-less essay, the other in a work of more-or-less fiction, but both reflect Berson’s determination to leave the conventions of genre in a basket at the side of the road.


No current projects were found for this scholar.

Archiving Indigeneity: Language Documentation and the Pragmatics of Decolonization


The Human Scaffold: How Not to Design Your Way out of a Climate Crisis


Selected Publications

Berson, Joshua (2021). The Human Scaffold: How Not to Design Your Way Out of a Climate Crisis. Great Transformations 2. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

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Nappi, Carla, Joshua Berson, Christie Brown, Vincent Duclos, Judith Farquhar, Dianna Frid, Angelika Messner, Todd Ochoa, Barry Saunders, Leander Schwazer, Clare Twomey, and Felipe Mancheno (2021). Markbooks. Flugschriften 11. [Pittsburgh]:…

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Berson, Joshua (2019). The Meat Question: Animals, Humans, and the Deep History of Food. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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Berson, Joshua (2012). “Ideologies of descent in linguistics and law.” Language & Communication 32 (2): 137–146.

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