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Accepted Paper:

Agents of sustainability: How horses and people co-create and enact visions of the good life  
Helen Wadham (Manchester Metropolitan University) Carrianne Wallace (Aston Business School)

Paper short abstract:

In the light of growing disaffection with consumer capitalism, how might our relations with horses help us redefine the “good life” in more-than-human ways and what questions does this raise about our responsibility towards horses themselves (and potentially other animals too)?

Paper long abstract:

The current Covid-19 pandemic has compounded an inflow of people into rural areas in the UK and elsewhere in search of the “good life” (Guardian 2020). Explicitly seeking new ways of working and living, they might be characterised as part of what philosopher Kate Soper calls the “affluent disaffected” (2020; 72). That is, according to her model of “alternative hedonism,” they are rejecting the inherently negative aspects of consumer-based affluence, foregrounding instead the pleasures of life.

While alternative hedonism is understood and experienced at the micro level, it might in turn facilitate a macro-level shift towards a more socially just and environmentally sustainable way of life. Ideas about the good life are thus tied up with broader concerns about sustainability. As such, we would go further than Soper and suggest that the good life is a more-than-human matter.

It is well-established that human flourishing depends upon the wellbeing of animals as well as people (Cuomo 1998; Haraway 2008). Domestic animals – especially horses – are part of what Henry Buller (2016; 422) calls a “broader, more inclusive moral community.” The aim of this paper, therefore, is to critically analyse how horse-human relations shape the way people imagine and experience the good life. However, these attempts to articulate and enact some kind of joint future in turn raise questions of our responsibility towards horses and other animals: Specifically, how can we speak for them? And how can we place them at the centre of our analyses?

Panel Speak19
Saddled with responsibility? Understanding agency and power in horse–human relations
  Session 1 Thursday 1 April, 2021, -