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Archaeology and Animal Persons

Toward a Prehistory of Human-Animal Relations

Erica Hill

The discipline of archaeology has long engaged with animals in a utilitarian mode, constructing animals as objects to be hunted, manipulated, domesticated, and consumed. Only recently, in tandem with the rising interest in animals in the humanities and the development of interdisciplinary animal studies research, has archaeology begun to systematically engage with animals as subjects. This article describes some of the ways in which archaeologists are reconstructing human engagements with animals in the past, focusing on relational modes of interaction documented in many hunting and gathering societies. Among the most productive lines of evidence for human-animal relations in the past are animal burials and structured deposits of animal bones. These archaeological features provide material evidence for relational ontologies in which animals, like humans, were vested with sentience and agency.

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Pushkar Sohoni

The domestication and use of animals is an integral part of the history of technology, as beasts were used to improve the efficiency of agricultural, military, and transportation activities. Individuals and social groups often had to be introduced along with animal technologies, as the domestication, breeding, training, and handling of animals was a culture that could not be immediately learned. In the age of European empires, several ethnic groups were imported along with the animals that they tended. This article highlights the role of humans as part of animal technologies, as an important anthropological component when technologies that involve animals are introduced to new settlements and areas. Using three case studies in which animal technologies from Asia were introduced to other parts of the world, it can be seen that humans are an essential and integral component of animal technologies.

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The Return of the Animal

Posthumanism, Indigeneity, and Anthropology

Danielle DiNovelli-Lang

The vectors by which the question of the animal has confronted the discipline of anthropology are both diverse—from paleoarchaeological fascination with the transition from ape to man to sociocultural accounts of human-animal conflict—and fraught insofar as they tend to loop back into one another. For instance, while posthumanism is intellectually novel, to take its line of critique seriously is to recognize that the science of man has depended on the philosophical animal from the start. A still tighter loop could be drawn around Lévi-Strauss's foundational interest in animal symbolism and the Amazonian ontologies undergirding Latour's amodern philosophy. Three related interdependencies pull hard on these loops: 1) philosophy and anthropology; 2) the human and the animal; 3) modernity and indigeneity. This last interdependency is notably undertheorized in the present efflorescence of human-animal scholarship. This article attends to some of the consequences of modernity/indigeneity's clandestine operations in the literature.

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Animals, Plants, People, and Things

A Review of Multispecies Ethnography

Laura A. Ogden, Billy Hall and Kimiko Tanita

This article defines multispecies ethnography and links this scholarship to broader currents within academia, including in the biosciences, philosophy, political ecology, and animal welfare activism. The article is organized around a set of productive tensions identified in the review of the literature. It ends with a discussion of the “ethnographic” in multispecies ethnography, urging ethnographers to bring a “speculative wonder” to their mode of inquiry and writing.

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Sandra Swart

Conceptual work on the history of mobilities has been devoid of animation other than humans and their machines. The deafening automobility of the present has drowned out memories of an “animal past” teleologically, and the raucous rapidity of the mobile machine drives over the “animal present.” This article is an attempt to explore what a history of mobility that takes animals seriously might look like. It is based on the argument that living nonhuman creatures have their own mobilities and that these animobilities have shaped and been shaped by human societies. It is intended to open up historical narratives of a complex, shifting, nonlinear relationship between animals and changing human technologies of transport—as part of this journal's mission to rethink mobility and include more subaltern approaches. A key finding is that mobility's negative sociopolitical and environmental effects on different groups, in fact species, are inversely correlated to their proximity to power. This article touches on several research trajectories, but the focus is on control of mobility by the state, with case studies drawn from southern Africa's history.

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Blood and the City

Animal Representations and Urban (Dis)orders during the ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’ in Istanbul and Khartoum

Alice Franck, Jean Gardin and Olivier Givre

Based on comparative fieldwork studies of the Muslim ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’, this article questions the places, shapes and stakes of ritual animal death in the urban space. The examples of Istanbul (Turkey) and Khartoum (Sudan) illustrate different but comparable perceptions, practices and management of a ritual event simultaneously associated with religious traditions and confronted with deep transformations in urbanised and globalised societies. Between ritual normalcy and controversial practice, sacrifice in the city is not reducible to a religious matter but addresses at once spatial, social and cultural issues, informed by economic and political stakes. Through a ritual performance and its manifold aspects, the article explores the multiple and evolving representations of the place and role of animals (and their death) in an urban context.

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Humans, Animals, and Health

From Ecology to Entanglement

Alex M. Nading

Medical and environmental social scientists have recently become interested in how health brings human and nonhuman animals together. is article discusses historical approaches to this question. It then explores applied disease ecology, which examines how anthropogenic landscape change leads to “disease emergence.” The article goes on to review two critical approaches to the question. Critics of bio-security concern themselves with the ways in which animal and human lives are regulated in the context of “emerging diseases” such as avian influenza and foot and mouth disease. Scholarship on human-animal “entanglement” focuses on the ways in which disease, instead of alienating humans from other life forms, brings their intimate relationships into sharper relief. The article argues that health is one terrain for developing a critical environmental analysis of the production of life, where life is the ongoing, dynamic result of human and nonhuman interactions over time.

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Fair Exchange

Utilisation of Working Animals (and Women) in Ancient Mesopotamia and Modern Africa

Jill Goulder

Modern sub-Saharan African studies on the recent adoption and impact of working-animal use provide valuable ethnographic insights for archaeologists into early exploitation of this new resource in antiquity. The systematic use of working cattle and (often forgotten in models) of donkeys constituted a key factor in the burgeoning of complex societies in fourth- and third-millennium BC Mesopotamia. Modern analogy indicates that models should include the economic importance of year-round utilisation of working animals and strategies for achieving this, including user training and animal hiring and lending. Another key finding is that the situation of women, commonly culturally constrained worldwide from handling cattle, is greatly ameliorated by the availability of donkeys, which can empower them in terms of income and status.

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Luis Cordeiro-Rodrigues

The Portuguese animal rights movement has been extremely active in campaigning against bullfighting. Indeed, from 2002 to 2014, this was their main priority in terms of campaigns. In this article, I assess how these campaigns have been carried out, arguing that the animal rights movement in Portugal has been othering supporters and practitioners of bullfights in their campaigns. In other words, their campaigns have consisted of drawing a sharp contrast between bullfight supporters and practitioners and the rest of the population. I argue that a consequence of this is that the speciesist practices of the majority of Portuguese have become normalised; consequently, leading to the reinforcement of some speciesist norms.

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Mark C.J. Stoddart

This article examines several ways in which animals are brought into skiing in British Columbia, Canada. Discourse analysis, interviews with skiers, and field observation are used to analyze how skiing joins together skiers, mountain landscapes, and non-human animals. First, animals enter ski industry discourse primarily as symbols of nature, or as species that ski corporations manage through habitat stewardship. Second, environmentalists recruit animals—particularly bears and mountain caribou—into a discourse of wildlife and wilderness values that are threatened by ski industry expansion. From this standpoint, skiing landscapes transform wildlife landscapes to meet the needs of a global tourist economy. Finally, skiers' talk about their own encounters with animals illustrates how embodied animals also shape skiers' experience of mountainous nature.