Dr. Grace Kim-Butler (Utrecht University) and I would like to invite you to contribute an abstract to our proposed panel for the 2023 American Anthropological Association (AAA) conference in Toronto, Canada, to be held November 15th to 19th.
Badgering Space: Topologies of Human-Animal Encounter
What are the topoi of anthropos?
This panel invites “beastly tales” (Mathur 2021)—ethnographic stories of human and animal encounter—that ferret out the spaces “when” or, rather, where “species meet” (Haraway 2008). Over the past two decades, “multispecies ethnography” has bulled human-animal entanglements into the foreground of contemporary anthropological scholarship (Kirksey and Helmreich 2010). In dialogue with the transdisciplinary field of animal studies (Hayward and Weinstein 2015), these scholars have examined the co-constitution of human and animal forms of life, their “becoming” (Despret 2008), as well as their “becoming without” (Reis-Castro 2021), that is, their “detachment” (Candea 2010) and their “separation” (Kelly and Lezaun 2014) from one another. Thanks to these efforts, we have empirically and theoretically rich accounts of care (Salazar Parreñas 2018), ethics (Sharp 2018), kinship (Franklin 2008), intimacy (Govindrajan 2018), and justice (Chao et al. 2022) as inter-, or trans-, species relations. In spite of the implicit spatiality of what many anthropologists, following Haraway (2003), have characterized as the “contact zone,” the spaces of encounter have weaseled out of explicit analysis (noteworthy exceptions include Blanchette 2020; Ingold 2007; and Tsing et al. 2017).
By invoking the “feral” (Barua 2021) metaphorics of the badger, we seek to badger space—to populate conventionally human territories with animal subjects—and to badger space—to pester, to nag, dog-matically anthropocentric philosophies about space in its material and semiotic dimensions. Heeding Terike Haapoja’s (2023) insight that “it is the cage that constructs the nonhuman as well as the human outside the cage,” we will survey how the built and natural environments configure what “forms” (Kohn 2013) human and animal relationships take and how, in turn, those relationships re-configure their environs. How, for example, does “animal housing” (Bjørkdahl and Druglitrø 2016), the “architectures of domestication” (Anderson et al. 2017), mediate between species? To what extent does the locality and translocality of encounter matter, whether in clinics (Nading 2014), laboratories (Keck 2020), sanctuaries (Abrell 2021), temples (Fuentes 2010), farms (Weiss 2016), reserves (Lowe 2017), or parks (Stoetzer 2023)? How do these physical and imaginative spaces buttress or otherwise weaken the ontological “caesura” (Agamben 2002) partitioning humans from animals? We welcome, especially, papers that “look both ways” (Tsing 2022) to query how animals make sense of the space of encounter (see Despret 2022; also Escobar 2018). We hope to catalogue a spatial bestiary that will hound a politics of “conviviality” (Hinchliffe and Whatmore 2006) for the “zoopolis” (Wolch 1998).
We encourage contributors from a range of theoretical orientations, methodological practices, and narrative styles, including but not limited to: anthropologists of art, design, and architecture; urban anthropologists; and multispecies ethnographers.
If you are interested in joining us, please submit an abstract (250-word maximum) to us by the end of day on Tuesday, March 28th. We will be in touch the next day and submit before midnight on the 29th. Please direct any questions to me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities
Wolf Humanities Center and Department of Anthropology
University of Pennsylvania