human and non-human animals


human and non-human animals

For anthropologists interested in human-animal relationship.

Members: 111
Latest Activity: Oct 31, 2014

"It was so easy to imitate these people. I could already spit on the first day. Then we used to spit in each other’s faces. The only difference was that I licked my face clean afterwards. They did not. Soon I was smoking a pipe like an old man, and if I then also pressed my thumb down into the bowl of the pipe, the entire area between decks cheered. Still, for a long time I did not understand the difference between an empty and a full pipe."
From F. Kafka "A Report for an Academy"

Discussion Forum

Want to share bibliography and other resources? Put it here please. 16 Replies

Started by Isabel Cardana. Last reply by Nold Egenter Sep 6, 2012.

Schools, Colleges, Faculties, and Departments 1 Reply

Started by Isabel Cardana. Last reply by Kara White Oct 30, 2011.

Courses in HAS 2 Replies

Started by Margo DeMello. Last reply by Margo DeMello Mar 29, 2010.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Andrea Zuppi on April 4, 2014 at 1:31pm

HEllo everybody!! I am a master student at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences SOciales of Paris, and I am currently preparing my field-research on a small hunting community in the Pyrenes! I was wondering then if you could suggest me some ethnorgaphies on hunting in europe.. ??? Thank you very much for collaboration! Andrea

Comment by Sarah Czerny on March 3, 2012 at 2:03pm

I was wondering whether anyone would be interested in virtually meeting [perhaps once a month] for some kind of seminar/discussion group about the human / non-human relation.

I was thinking that perhaps if there was a group of us who were interested we could pick a paper and discuss it, or even present our own work. In my neck of the woods funding for travel is very scarce and it would be great to be able to connect with others in some virtual way.

Anyway if anyone is interested, then it would be great to try and organise something...

Comment by Rob Boddice on September 3, 2011 at 12:29pm
If I may be so bold, I think the members of this group will be interested in my new collection, just published: Anthropocentrism: Humans, Animals, Environments (Leiden and Boston: Brill). It's all over the map from a disciplinary point of view, with some strong sociological and anthropological chapters. (
Comment by Piers Locke on March 6, 2011 at 12:32am
HI folks- Some of you may be interested in the following:

Vital Powers And Politics: Human Interactions With Living Things. Annual conference of the Association of Social Anthropologists at the University of Wales Trinity St David (Lampeter campus), 13-16 September 2011.

The 2011 annual conference of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth aims to enable participants to consider human interactions with other living things from a perspective that does not always put human beings in centre stage. At this early stage of the twenty-first century, which has been called the new ‘biological century’, it provides an opportunity to consider anthropological and philosophical frameworks for examining strategies involving recursive relationships between living organisms in their socio-cultural contexts and processes. The theme challenges participants to examine new biopolitical economies of vitality (or morbidity and death) which bring human and non-human species together in changing configurations of collectivities. The scope of the conference is to discuss issues of biopolitics in a philosophically informed manner with social, cultural and biological anthropologists, philosophers, archaeologists, historians and human geographers.

Keynote speakers include Professor Veena Das, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor at John Hopkins University, and Professor Rane Willerslev, Institute of Anthropology and Ethnography, University of Aarhus.

Please consult the website of the Association of Social Anthropologists for further information:

The timetable is as follows:

4 March 2011: Call for Panels closes
16 March 2011: Call for papers opens
29 April 2011: Call for papers closes
18 July 2011: Registration deadline to appear in the programme
13 September 2011: Conference begins

For further information please contact myself the conference convenor Penny Dransart at:
Comment by Layla AbdelRahim on August 27, 2010 at 4:37pm
Privet Nicolas,
I didn't mean you personally with the bla bla bla. I meant the 90% of the scientific production, including the essay that we are discussing is bla bla bla. I actually checked out your dissertation on wolves in Kirghizia and found much of it interesting - at least, original. Nevertheless, there is always the problem of training (and in France you do suffer a lot from it - gentle nudge), language, and the perspective of those in power today on the planet - and obviously you identify yourself with those powers and their interests as you were raised and trained with them. As a scientist you should be the first to acknowledge your bias, I wouldn't have to point out that then and we'd have skipped the Messiah part.

But a slight deviation here to respond on the place of scientists in finding the truth - actually, it is not because scientists are indispensable in their own right for the humanity or - as some scientists believe, the whole planet and even universe that they are there to supposedly seek the Truth, but because the structures of domestication that are in power make the funded and the institutionally acknowledged scientists the ones to EARN (domestication process at its best) the authority and the social and symbolic capital (including time and reception) to produce works in the language that is approved to serve as authority the interests of authority. Your belief in "science" is then your first bias. I personally, don't believe that my bla bla bla is any more authoritative than a wolve's, a squirrel's or a raccoon's.

So, I never said that I was the first to come up with the idea of bias. But the way my observations were met in this forum was as if I fell from the moon - "have you not heard of the evolutionary bla bla bla?" ah, well yours is just an opinion - ours is science bla bla bla - so, I had to explain the obvious. If it's the problem that it is "I" who is voicing the critique and not such "respectable" anthropologists as Bourdieu, Emily Martin, Imanishi, Brian Ferguson, et al, then it is because of the Foucauldian structures of power in the the field of science, added to it the race and the gender of the speaker that give your bias in who to tune to and who to dismiss as "just a perspective". Again, nothing new, but for some reason this critique is absent from the arguments of my interlocutors. So, someone like me either has to get armed with ALL the authority of the well-respected and well-funded scientists or be told that she doesn't know about perspective and evolutionary theory enough to point out that the terminology is flawed at best and false and biased at worst.

Finally, if there is a bias in my perspective (yeah, I do prefer Kroptkin's science to Darwin's), mine leaves wilderness in tact; while Darwinist interpretation is what gave domestication the religious language of the go-ahead-and fuck it all up (if I can't state this without the authority of the institution - I did present this at the anthropological conference at the University of Montreal "commemorating" Darwin in 2009 - a very Messianic paper, you'd have loved it).

So, sadly, you are right about the lack of wilderness today. Everything has been killed and domesticated -more so, the ridiculousness of this debate, since such an outcome is one of organisms that fail to overcome their illness. Unless of course you're into Derrida's bla bla bla where nature allegedly didn't exist before language and culture and the whole humano-centrism at its best. It didn't appear that you espouse this bla bla in your thesis, so I'm just pointing out where the logic of the argument leads here in this forum.

And yes, science is a tool. Claude Levi-Strauss went as far as to state that it is used to change the world: "We have already distinguished the scientist and the 'bricoleur' by the inverse functions which they assign to events and structures as ends and means, the scientist creating events (changing the world) by means of structures and the 'bricoleur' creating structures by means of events" (Lévi-Strauss 1966 - The Savage Mind p. 22).

So, if it is known, even in France (wink) that science is a tool of power whose very purpose is to change the world, and the world is the poor dying, clear-cut, polluted planet that anthropogenic activity inflicted upon it - isn't it more accurate to describe this "evolution" not as a mutual trajectory but as a fatal illness?
Comment by Nicolas Lescureux on August 27, 2010 at 11:33am
Layla. To say that scientific research is biased by cultural characteristics of the researchers is nothing new and more and more scientists are aware of that. To ask me to see things like you and to point the blindness of the others and caricaturate their discourses as a "scientific blablabla" looks like an arrogant way to discuss. It looks like you take the position of the Messiah among ignorant people. The one who see among blind people. I never told that definitely, domestic animals benefit from domestication. I told it could be a point of view. It is not the scientific point of view, it is just one point of view among others in science, because science is diverse, and scientists are quite diverse too. I gave an obvious example, not only of parasitism, but of exploitation among ants just to say it is not a particularity of humans or illnesses. This was not to say that exploitation is the only way evolution is working. Of course, saying that competition is the only force behind evolution was quite useful for capitalist power. Of course, it has been discovered that mutualism is also an evolutive force (but who discovered that ? Non scientists?). However,to say that diversity in the wilderness (where is wilderness ?) is supported by mutuality alone is just a nonsense. Both forces are working together and science is, step by step, improving its understanding of the phenomenon. Some political, ideological and cultural forces maybe make it slower, but still, some scientists are aware of their history, their work and the context in which it is produced. Science is a tool. So, indeed, science can be and is used by the power. However it doesn't mean that scientists are all the blindness instruments of white male capitalist power on earth. Some of them are, for sure, but it looks like you want to throw the baby with the bathwater.
Comment by Paul Wren on August 26, 2010 at 7:36pm
Yes, someone said to me just yesterday that the chicken is the most successful bird species... a dubious conclusion at best.
Comment by Layla AbdelRahim on August 26, 2010 at 7:02pm
Paul, please, don't give up trying to liberate yourself from the bonds of domestication and white maleness (gentle smile).
Obviously, it is not true that all domestication and enslavement was started by white males. In fact, white males north of the Mediterranean themselves have been domesticated quite recently.
And of course the ideal that science promotes, and by which it earns its points to claim authority, is that it searches for the objective truth and causes and effects, et al. However, science in the conditions of domestication is highly biased and the way it is made possible (you know the funding structures, for example) it ends up promoting the perspective and the interests of the current powers of domestication. My problem is with these interests, their language, and the knowledge they produce. It would help us all, male and not, white and colourful, to strive beyond our own domestication and limitations. Because if we do not, we'll end up seeing "canis lupus" (who is the castrated domestic dog today) or the cow as "successful" and that in itself is an ideology laden term that evaluates in your (white male) terminology and not mine, because until recently (such as my lifetime) I would have been told to be that dog, horse, or cow and explained that it is in the interests of my success. You would have been the one telling me that and so our interests diverge and so does the language we choose to describe this relationship.
Comment by Paul Wren on August 26, 2010 at 6:42pm

I guess that as a parasitic white male, nothing else I say on this subject will be taken as unbiased or even relevant. Still... I'm going to try.

Science is about trying to understand how what we see came to be, and it is through this scientific process that we must consider the impact of animal domestication on human evolution, since it did happen.

Now those pesky white males who enslaved the wolves may indeed have been evil and the wolves may have suffered. But they did it, and doing so may have had an effect on the success of H. sapiens (as well as C. lupus). Why are you unwilling to consider this a legitimate path of inquiry?
Comment by Layla AbdelRahim on August 26, 2010 at 4:22pm
Nicolas, don't you see that there is a stronger correlation between the race and the gender of the scientists and of the lay people who prefer to describe the parasitic relationship of domesticating humans as "mutual" than between the alleged "benefits" of the colonised species and the coloniser?

Look at where this language and perspective takes you: in Paul's examples below, it follows that the black slaves have "evolved" as slaves. I'm not even going to go in the the territory of exercising who else might have evolved as what because of the various conditions in Europe, because I don't find such exercises useful or even true. Circumstances, including domestication, civilisation, colonisation, illness, et al, obviously cause individuals and species to make different choices of how live their lives - but there is a diversity of causes and experiences and most important of change that is denied under domestication and other parasitic relationships.

Finally, we can also say that the white males who insist that there is nothing biased in this language are blinded because they have evolved into a parasitic species. Because they are in control through symbolic, political, or real power, they normalise these relationships from their perspective and language and not from those of the abused. They also spread this normative language through literature, media, obligatory schooling and other institutions so as the domesticated victims (including the non-verbal humans) end up also accepting this perspective and language as normal and unbiased, hey, even as scientific.

The diversity in wilderness is supported by mutuality. The fact that you can cite some examples of parasitic relationships in nature, they are still in the minority of the scope of relationships, but more important, the fact that some fungus does it to ants does not erase the fact that this planet is dying not because of the ants and their fungus, but because of civilised humans. Regardless of what scientific bla bla bla you come up with, it won't bring back to life all the species that the "scientific" and other activities behind the bla bla bla are destroying. Unless, of course, you'll say that that's not true, or it's o.k. because the dinosaurs have vanished. Still, you'll be focused on normalising that which could have been approached differently had you been able to zoom out.

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