We are constructing an American Anthropology Association Panel on Human-Animal Relationships in Japan. We will narrow the panel concept based on the research focus of the panelists who respond by March 30th. Apologies for any cross-posting.
Human-Animal Relationships in Contemporary Japan
Since Levi-Strauss famously stated that “animals are good to think”, anthropologists have documented and sought to understand the relationships we have with humans. The recent “animal turn”, however, has delved far deeper into these relationships – recognizing not only the multifaceted meaningful entanglements we share with non-human animals, but the full extent of our multispecies existence. Beyond traditional perspectives, we now address non-human animals as subjects, as members of our socialities, and as kin, to name a few.
Non-human animals in Japan are no exception. Our relationships with them are equally varied. Scholars have made major contributions to the understanding of the human-animal relationship in many fields and cultural contexts, yet the human-animal relationship is Japan has only begun to be explored through a contemporary theoretical gaze. The aim of this panel is to explore what is distinctive about these relationships in this particular cultural context. How do Japanese people understand the role of nonhuman animals in their lives? What do animals represent and offer to people in Japan today? How have animals lives changed in contemporary Japan?
This panel will attempt to address these questions using case studies of human-animal relationships in Japan. As currently described, our topic is very broad and we intend to focus it as we develop a better sense of the arguments of the participants, so we welcome a variety of perspectives and methodologies.