Accepted Paper:

From llama caravans to trucks and jeeps: travelling and knowing with animals in Sud Lipez, Bolivia  


Maggie Bolton (University of Aberdeen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores movement and entwinement with animals in the ethnographic context of journeys with llama caravans in the Bolivian Andes. Taking a post-exceptionalist perspective (Haraway 2008) it aims to foreground human-animal relations in long-distance journeys of exchange, proposing that humans and pack animals are co-knowers of their environment.

Paper long abstract:

Theorists taking phenomenological and performative perspectives have made strong cases for viewing movement through the environment as key to the production of knowledge (Ingold 2000, Turnbull 2007). While acknowledging the value of this scholarship, in this work humans have almost always been placed squarely in the centre of the frame of enquiry. Nevertheless, throughout history, humans have often moved and journeyed, not alone, but in the company of a variety of animals - riding upon them; walking with them as companions; using them to carry goods; or just taking them along as unintentioned passengers. This paper looks at long distance journeys of exchange made by llama herders in the Bolivian Andes. It takes a post-exceptionalist perspective (Haraway 2008) viewing humans as situated within webs of interspecies dependencies, and takes up the insight from science studies of knowledge being produced across collectivities. The paper foregrounds relations between herders and their llamas on journeys of exchange, taking seriously herders' claims about their llamas' ability to learn, to know places and remember routes travelled, proposing that humans and llamas are co-knowers of their environment. It further suggests that it is the coming together of different ways of knowing, of humans and animals, that is necessary for the successful outcome of a journey. The paper in addition compares and contrasts these traditional journeys with travel in motorised vehicles.

Panel P02
Whirls of organisms: forms and movements of life