Accepted Paper:

A lover, not a fighter? The animal as friend and enemy in Cree ontology and beyond  

Author:

Clinton Westman (University of Saskatchewan)

Paper short abstract:

Studies of Cree relations with animals have focused on their ambivalence, invoking categories such as friendship, love, pity, enmity, exchange, and deception to explain the dynamic between predator and prey, analytically providing insight in other Amerindian cultural contexts as well.

Paper long abstract:

Influential ethnographic studies (Tanner 1979; Brightman 1993) of Cree relations with animals have focused on the ambivalence, alternately invoking categories such as friendship, love, pity, enmity, exchange, and deception to explain the dynamic between predator and prey, spirit and supplicant. More recently, the relevance of this dynamic to Amazonian perspectivism has been considered both by Algonquianists (Hornborg 2008) and Amazonianists (Fausto 2007). The former has considered Amazonian perspectivism in light of Algonquian animism and sacred geography, while the latter considers Algonquian hunting relations in relation to Amazonian debates on hunting, cannibalism, commensality, and war. In all the above cases the focus is on intersubjective relations within a potentially unstable ontological frame. I will synthesize and critique this theoretical debate, while relating it to my own fieldwork in northern Alberta. I consider the ambivalent, unstable relationships described above as one entry point into querying ideas about domestication, personhood, and other human-animal entanglements.

Panel BH15
Querying domestication: the ethnography of human-animal entanglements