Studies of horse-human relationships recognize the complex entanglements constituting humans and horses as individuals and as pairs. Varying perspectives on horse-human encounters explore the meaning of horses as perceived by their human partners.
Recent studies of the relationships between humans and other animals have contributed to a revolutionary change in our perspectives about anthropos' place in the world. Multispecies ethnographic studies show that, rather than humans being fixed in cultural dominance structures and animals being subjugated to nature, humans and animals instead become with each other, in interspecies communications that ontologically inform the personalities and identities of both.
By conceptualizing this panel session under the term 'the meaning of horses,' we explore relationships between horses and humans as unique communicative practices offering lessons about being human and animal in the contemporary world. Horse-human relationships evolve in complex mental and material processes that co-shape and regulate collaborative practices. Central questions pertain to what humans see as horses' encounter value, as social and cultural capital. What do horses do for humans, how are they situated in these naturalcultural bonds, and what are the sensuous mental and material effects and affects of horse-human communication and collaboration? How is horse agency perceived and what communicative practices accommodate horse agency? Human-horse activities are emplaced, temporally and spatially; how does the meaning of horses unfold or change along these dimensions? What are the emplaced inter-sensuous connections between horses and humans, and naturalcultural transformations thereof? Finally, what new venues for dissemination of knowledge about intra-species communication and meaning-making can be used, and what constitutes new methodologies for production of such knowledge? The panel welcomes ethnographic studies that explore the meaning of horses along the suggested perspectives.