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This panel explores the foundations of ethical relationships with nonhumans in childhood across societies.
In times marked by anthropogenic environmental disaster, research on how we relate to the nonhuman world is more important than ever. Anthropology has been at the forefront of efforts engaging with non-Western epistemologies and their ontological foundations in the quest for alternative models of sociality and less destructive ways of relating to the environment. Perspectives and experiences of children have been largely absent from these discussions. Yet it is during childhood that understandings of the ontological status of nonhumans and ethical relations with them are developed. Across cultures, children are socialized implicitly and explicitly through specific everyday interactions how to attend to animals, plants, water, mountains, and air. We invite ethnographically informed submissions that explore the foundations of ethical relationships with nonhumans in childhood: How may everyday acts of kindness towards nonhumans relate to or translate into broader cultural attitudes? Which nonhumans can you be kind to and what counts as kindness in different contexts? How do children understand and interact with food and its origins? How do subsistence strategies such as hunting, herding, or agriculture, and practices such as pet-keeping socialize children's attitudes toward animals? What impacts do practices such as vegetarianism or veganism have on children's socialization and what are the roles of politics or religion? Addressing these and related questions, we hope to contribute to the role of anthropology in envisioning and working towards alternative possible futures.