Accepted paper:

Wolf

Authors:

Christopher Davis (SOAS)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I would like first to observe the transition of the wolf from predacious “matter of fact” to contemporary “subject of concern”. Then, I'd like to ask what happens to us if we take wolves as subjects seriously.

Paper long abstract:

In portrayals of the social/animal, the wolf is always the outsider. Almost always alone, an unwelcome intruder, the wolf, it seems, carries the burden of recreating the social by demonstrating first society's abiding vulnerabilities and then its conclusive triumph and reconstruction through the use of lethal force. This, at least, is the European mythic form. In this paper, I would like first to observe the transition of the wolf from predacious "matter of fact" to contemporary "subject of concern". What are the conditions of possibility that allow the wolf as social subject to exist? How are these comparable to processes by which other moral and political boundaries are reconstituted? Then I'd like to ask what might happen to our concept of society if we take seriously the idea of including in it wolves (and others) as non-domesticable subjects. What would happen to our thinking if we took the view that wolves do have opinions to which as social fellows we must attend?

panel P50
Social animals and us: anthropomorphism and animal utopias