Multispecies Interferences

Taxidermy and the Return of Wolves

in Ethnologia Europaea
Elisa Frank University of Zurich

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As in other countries in Central and Western Europe, the return of wolves to Switzerland since the mid-1990s has generated intense debates and has taken place in various fields in which material and immaterial entities come together in new multispecies networks. This paper focuses on one of those fields: wolf taxidermy. Based on interviews and fieldwork in taxidermy workshops and Swiss nature museums, the main question here is whether there are moments of wolfish agency in this unquestionably human-dominated process of taxidermy. A praxeological, performative and relational understanding of agency is laid out to explore this question. The selective and restricted agentic capacities wolves perform – mostly as a sort of offstage agents absent from the workshop itself – within the sociomaterial networks of wolf taxidermy is captured with the term interference.

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