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Accepted Paper:

Wild protection: magical animals in stories of war and terror  
Jean Langford (University of Minnesota)

Paper long abstract:

Among the figures of animality evoked in narratives of war or state terror are the "beast" who perpetrates brutal acts of violence and the debased creature who is subjected, like livestock, to captivity, forced labor or slaughter. Yet a third figure of animality appears in the stories of animistically inclined emigrants who survived war and terror in Laos or Cambodia: the wild animal as transmigrated ancestor or capriciously sympathetic spirit who offers a powerful if unpredictable source of protection when the civil order itself has undergone a terrifying metamorphosis. What possibilities do animals cum spirits offer for rewriting the biopolitical story about humanity and animality that prevails in much contemporary social analysis? What do these para-animals offer to those who are threatened with a social violence unrestrained by law and "humanitarian" ethics? What is it about extremes of human violence that prompt magical animals to emerge and speak?

Panel W003
Crises, crossings and other worlds: exploring the invisible, the liminal and the virtual
  Session 1