Accepted paper:

Why don’t we talk about the dogs? A call for more attention to human-canine relations in Andean herding communities


Maggie Bolton (University of Aberdeen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper uses fieldwork in a Bolivian herding community, to call for more attention to dogs in studies of human-animal relations in the Andes. It draws on theoretical perspectives that aim to take anthropology beyond the human and ethnographic accounts from other regions of the Americas.

Paper long abstract:

Anthropological scholarship on animals in Andean societies has progressed in recent years from studies that focus on either animal symbolism or the role of domestic animals in indigenous economies to the course of animal domestication in the region and more general issues concerning human-animal relations. Nevertheless, and quite understandably, scholarship has focused most often on relations between humans and herd animals – camelids, indigenous to the region, sheep (colonial imports easily assimilated to Andean world views) and even occasionally donkeys. However, my experience of living in a herding community probably involved spending as much time with local dogs as with herd animals – yet scholarship concerning human-canine relations in the region tends to be limited to a few words about the presence of dogs on journeys with llama caravan journeys, or to accounts of beliefs surrounding death and the journey undertaken by souls of the deceased. As a first step to remedying this situation, I consider Andean human-canine relations through recent theoretical attempts to take anthropology beyond the human, ethnographic accounts from Amazonia and the Arctic and the lives (and deaths) of the various dogs I knew in Sud Lipez, Bolivia and their sometimes ambivalent relations with humans.

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