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E35
Towards a multispecies approach in African Studies [initiated by the ASCL and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam]
Convenors:
Marieke van Winden (conference organiser) (African Studies Centre Leiden)
Harry Wels (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Stream:
E: Transdisciplinary debates

Abstract:

Scientific evidence nowadays leaves no doubt that humans differ from animals only in degree and not in kind. Human exclusivity and anthropocentrism therefore no longer hold, hence non-human animals, and their absences / invisibilities, need to be included in African Studies. However, taking non-human animals as serious participants or ‘respondents’ in African Studies, in the same ways that humans are part of such research, comes with huge theoretical and methodological challenges. The anthropocentrism of conventional African Studies has not really equipped scholars with tools to answer these intellectual challenges in adequate ways so far. Nonetheless attempts are increasingly made all over the African continent and universities (as elsewhere around the globe) to rectify this reductionist approach and include non-human animals in the African Studies research practices.