Accepted Paper:

Living in the neighborhood subordinated to animals: necessary and voluntary human-animal cohabitation in the historic settlement at the back of Racetrack Sluzewiec in the capital of Poland  


Barbara Bossak-Herbst (University of Warsaw)

Paper short abstract:

The interplay of spatial and social determinants of multispecies cohabitation at the backstage of vast Racetrack Sluzewiec will be discussed. Projected by architects and grassroots interspecies relations will be collated and analyzed through the revised concept of "web of life" (Park, 1936).

Paper long abstract:

During ethnographic studies on the social enclave at the back of the Warsaw hippodrome, among topics arose from my fieldwork, was issue of shared spaces and rules of interspecies coexistence.

In my presentation social and spatial conditions of human-animal cohabitation hidden by six kilometer concrete wall from Warsaw people sight will be examined. Settlement at Racetrack Sluzewiec was built in the interwar for fool blood horses and stable stuff. Project was created to fulfill needs of both. Beside the hippodrome, according to modernistic concepts, sunny and airy blocks were build next to stables, parks, next to pastries, training track and horse traffic was separated from human and wheel traffic by underpasses.

Stables are adjacent to "racers" blocks which creates common also in sensual terms. Each stable has own accustomed cats family. Fans stay useless because of the swallows. In every visited household (one or two roomed) I met also private pets. Although most "racers" are poor some are engaged in saving old ponies which rumble on vast fallow lands and although living in vacant boxes, are treated more like pets. Stable staff and their families often also create spaces for other only partly accustomed species.

This multispecies milieu belong both to public and private sphere and is organized in some social entities of humans and animals. They own internal hierarchies and spatial patterns of social life. Referring to my observations, interviews and visual data I will interpreted them primarily through the revised concept of "web of life" (Park, 1936).

Panel Mat04
Shared spaces: perspectives on animal architecture