P24
Objects, persons or property? Revisiting human-animal relations in the Andes, Amazonia and the American Arctic

Convenors:
Maggie Bolton (University of Aberdeen)
Jan Peter Laurens Loovers (University of Aberdeen)
Location:
Chrystal Macmillan Building, Seminar Room 2
Start time:
22 June, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This panel seeks to bring into conversation scholarship on human-animal relations in the Andes, Amazonia and the American Arctic. It asks what this comparative perspective can contribute to the theme of human/nature and to discussions of how anthropologists can approach the more-than-human world.

Long abstract:

Post-Enlightenment thought originating in the 'Old World' displays ambivalence towards animals. The biological sciences brought humans and animals closer together, locating humans in the animal kingdom, while Enlightenment philosophers argued that animals differ from humans in being irrational, and that one may dispose of them at one's discretion (Kant) or that they are governed by instinct rather than reason (Hume). These latter positions converge with the Christian belief that God gave man dominion over animals - positioning animals as property rather than persons. Anthropological work from different parts of the 'New World', the Andes, the American (Sub) Arctic and Amazonia, has demonstrated how Amerindian people make different ontological distinctions between humans and animals and assume different sorts of relations between them. Where present, animal domestication seems to have also taken a course different from that of the Old World, much less rooted in the idea of domination. Anthropological writing on humans and animals from the three regions has been productive in casting critical light upon general philosophical and anthropological questions such as the subject-object distinction, the nature of personhood and the idea of property, but convergences between the three regions remain underexplored. This panel seeks firstly to bring into conversation anthropological scholarship on human-animal relations in the Andes, Amazonia and the American Arctic. Its second aim is to ask what this comparative perspective on human-animal relations can contribute to the conference theme of human/nature and to discussions of how anthropologists can approach the more-than-human world.