How Like a Reef


1 “Playing games of string figures is about giving and receiving patterns, dropping threads and failing but sometimes finding something that works, something consequential and maybe even beautiful, that wasn’t there before, of relaying connections that matter, of telling stories in hand upon hand, digit upon digit, attachment site upon attachment site, to craft conditions for finite flourishing on terra, on earth. String figures require holding still in order to receive and pass on. String figures can be played by many, on all sorts of limbs, as long as the rhythm of accepting and giving is sustained. Scholarship and politics are like that too, passing on in twists and skeins that require passion and action, holding still and moving, anchoring and launching“ ––– Haraway, D. (2016). Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press.

2 Helmreich, Stefan. (2015). Sounding the Limits of Life: Essays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond. Princeton University Press.

How Like a Reef is an evolving collective committed to fostering vitality and collaboration. It aims to function as a dynamic entity that adapts to inquiries, opportunities, and locales. 

How Like a Reef seeks to inspire joint action by forging alliances with other initiatives and instigate collaborative ventures that shape abundant futures. Inspired by string figures1, our methods embody distributed agencies, emphasising the importance of approaches that can be shared and passed on.

Below, we outline initial collaborators and partnerships with organisations and institutions. The Partnered Initiatives page highlights projects with which we are forging alliances to enhance shared actions. 

Currently, our focus is on the Venice Lagoon, where we work with local actors and scientists. 

As How Like a Reef evolves, we aim to broaden our collaborations to form and reform to work on other locales.

Our name is drawn from Stefan Helmreich's essay How Like a Reef: Figuring Coral, 1839–20102, itself inspired by Donna Haraway's interview, How Like a Leaf, conducted by Thyrza Nichols Goodeve.

ConvenorsSonia Levy
Chiara Famengo

Alberto BarausseAlexandra ArènesAmina ChouaïriChiara CertomaEmily SepeFrédérique Aït-TouatiGiovanna GuadagninHeather Anne SwansonIfor DuncanKarin Amimoto Ingersoll Louise CarverMaria Montero SierraMartin SavranskyMeredith Root-BernsteinPietro Daniel OmodeoStefan Helmreich

Collaborators / Groups


Unruly Nature


THE NEW INSTITUTE Center for Environmental Humanities (NICHE)
TBA21–AcademyMarine biological Station "Umberto D'Ancona"FundersThe European Marine Board
S+T+ARTSPartnered Initiatives
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