Under one Roof Year-round

The Multispecies Intimacy of Cohabiting with Cows in Byre-houses since the Economic Enlightenment

in Ethnologia Europaea
Author:
Jadon Nisly Otto-Friederich-Universität Bamberg jadon.nisly@gmail.com

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A multispecies ethnography of year-round stall-feeding of cattle in byre-houses illuminates problems and opportunities of exhibiting historical human–animal relationships in open-air museums. Although received wisdom claims modernization alienated from nature, agricultural intensification in the Economic Enlightenment increased the intimacy of sociality with livestock. Year-round stall-feeding coexisted with living in byre-houses, and dairymaids began doing almost all of their work close to cows. This complicates straightforward narratives of modernity and animal agency. With byre-houses, open-air museums are uniquely positioned to tell this story of intimate working and living together and help re-center animals in often human-centered cultural history, even though welfare problems of housing in historical byre-houses, the risk of sentimentalizing past husbandry, and echoing the historical absenting of animals can present complications.

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