(P20) Handle with care: humans and their interactions with animals
Convenor: Maja Pasaric, University College Dublin
Discussant: to be decided
Abstract: This session focuses on considerations of care in human-animal interactions in both past and present hunting and gathering communities. Contributions exploring different aspects of care in hunter-gatherers’ interactions with animals recognized through ritual practices, everyday embodied activities, material culture, belief narratives and other cultural practices are welcome.
Keywords: care, human-animal relationships, cultural practices, embodied activities
Format: standard panel
Precirculated papers: none required
Various actions of care are embedded in our daily experiences, reflecting and informing the ways in which we perceive the world and interact with others. Considerations of care in human-animal interactions are a rather understudied aspect of animal-human relationships in both past and present hunting and gathering communities. Care can be manifest through a range of different performative and bodily actions, such as the use of touch, voice, gesture, etc (Hamington, 2004). However, care can prove itself as ambiguous, messy and visceral. In some contexts it stands in close interaction with aspects of control that can lead to harsh treatment of the animals involved. Do hunter-gatherers care for animals because they rely upon them for survival, working companionship, so that they can implement various ritual practices or they do so for the simple joy of living in the co-presence of another living species as in the case of pets? How can care manifest in ways animals are treated in life and death? What notions of care pertain to hunted animals, could they in some contexts be seen in the light of major contemporary ecological and environmental concerns as well? What aspects of care does co-life with animals in hunter-gatherers' settlements require? On the other hand, can animals care for humans as well and in what ways?
This session invites contributions exploring different aspects of care in hunter-gatherers’ interactions with animals recognized through ritual practices, everyday embodied activities, material culture, belief narratives and other cultural practices. For example, contributions from anthropology, archaeology, ethnology and other fields willing to investigate these and similar aspects of care in human-animal relationships are welcome.
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