Roberto Mendez-Arreola is a biologist and human ecologist. He received a grant for “Monarch Butterfly and People Co-Stories,” a research project which analyzed these co-histories by documenting the reports that amateur naturalists wrote and shared through digital platforms to professional scientists about the migratory route of the Monarch butterfly in Mexico. He writes:
The mission of this project is to focus attention on these marginalized narratives which offer rich human experiences about the encounters of people with the monarch butterfly and the nexus with non-human beings, contexts, and materialities. Recognizing these co-stories will allow us to redesign our pedagogical practices from critical approaches.
Roberto analyzed 917 reports by farmers, teachers, and amateur naturalists in the northern states of Mexico who track and document the monarch butterfly’s migration in Mexico. This “multimodal digital text” included text, images, video, and voice notes. From this research, as well as direct interviews, Roberto was able to complete the paper “Textos que vuelan: producción y trayectorias de textos de reportes escritos sobre la migración de la mariposa monarca” (“Texts that Fly: Production and Text Trajectories of Written Reports on the Migration of the Monarch Butterfly”).
Roberto’s work is echoed by that of 2019 grantee Lisa Hirmer, who received a grant for a project entitled “Watching Moths,” which weaves connections between humans, light, moths, and photography, and questions how harm can be slow and cumulative, how human sight shapes our relationships with other beings, and how we might expand ideas of care for animals.