Representing and Depicting Animals
Christopher Ward (University of Nottingham)
SOAS Senate House - S209
Start time:
3 June, 2018 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

What does the depiction of the animal tell us about classification, interspecies relations and nature? This panel will seek to investigate how the mechanisms of knowledge in relation to the animal form can influence and sometimes challenge the relations between human and animal in unforeseen ways.

Long abstract:

What does the image of the animal tell us of that animal? When does this physical and perhaps biological representation of the animal meet the actual physicality? Where and how does this physicality become subjected to efforts to meet the representation? And historically, what do the changing depictions of animals in artforms tell us of the cultural perceptions of animals? Whether contemporary taxonomy or the Neolithic artwork which adorns cave walls, the depiction of the animal's form can be found throughout human culture and history. Despite technological improvements, the rendered image of the animal seems to be of importance to understanding the animal, and humanity's interactions with them. Do such mechanisms of the representation and classification of animals themselves have an unexpected effect, altering, displacing and even challenging inter-species relations? For modern conservation, those studying the animal might enjoy the advantage of genetic analysis to aid and define species, but the taxonomic formation and differentiation remains important to understanding geographic and cultural movements. Do these classificatory efforts remain embedded in a pre-human conception or in an ahistorical perception of the animal? Does this representation itself represent an idealised notion of the "authentic animal", and perhaps an "authentic nature" as well? This panel welcomes papers from all academic disciplines in relation to the representation of animals and will promote discussion of the effect of internalised perceptions on biosocial relationships. We hope to encourage participation in reflecting on what anthropology can offer to wider academic research and conservatory efforts towards the animal.