Amazonia | Hugh Raffles | Talks at Google | Summary and Q&A

April 10, 2010
Talks at Google
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Amazonia | Hugh Raffles | Talks at Google


Hugh Raffles discusses his book, Insectopedia, which explores the wide-ranging and complex relationships between humans and insects.

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Key Insights

  • 🙈 The perception of insects varies across cultures, with some considering them as dangerous or bothersome and others seeing them as beautiful or fascinating.
  • 🎭 Insects are a crucial part of ecosystems and perform essential roles such as pollination and decomposition.
  • 🤰 Social insects, such as ants and bees, exhibit collective intelligence and coordination in achieving complex tasks.
  • 💨 Taxonomy and classification systems can vary depending on the purpose and perspective, highlighting the importance of considering different ways of understanding and organizing the natural world.


Thank you so much for coming today. I'm pleased to have with us Hugh Raffles this afternoon. Hugh is a professor and Chair of Anthropology at The New School. And he's also the author of In Amazonia: A Natural History for which he received the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing. And his work in general addresses human concepts of nature ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Could you provide more information about cricket fighting in Shanghai?

Cricket fighting is a tradition in China that dates back nearly a thousand years. In Shanghai, you can find cricket exhibitions and matches where experts train and fight crickets. While gambling may be illegal, it is still possible to witness these fights or visit markets where crickets are sold.

Q: Are crickets used for any other purposes besides fighting?

In the context of cricket fighting, crickets are primarily bred and raised for this specific purpose. However, crickets are not commonly used for agricultural purposes or other activities outside of entertainment and cultural practices.

Q: How can we encourage chefs at Google to incorporate more insects into their menus?

While some cultures consume insects as a luxury food, it may not be necessary to urge chefs to include insects in their menus. Chefs at Google can continue to focus on creating delicious and innovative vegetarian and vegan options. Individuals can also explore insects as a source of protein and nutrition on their own if they are interested.

Q: Are there any surprising or interesting facts about insects that you discovered during your research?

One fascinating fact is the ability of spiders to circumnavigate the globe using air currents. Additionally, the sheer number of insects traveling in the atmosphere between 5,000 and 15,000 feet is mind-blowing. Insects live in a completely different world from humans and have unique senses and behaviors that we often overlook.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Insectopedia is a book that examines human relationships with insects, covering historical, cultural, and scientific perspectives.

  • The book delves into the world of insects through fieldwork and explores how insects can enrich our understanding of the physical world.

  • Raffles highlights the variety and complexity of insects, from cricket fighting in China to high-altitude insects found in the atmosphere.

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