Animalia

An Anthrozoology Journal


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Literary Anthrozoology: Do Fiction and Literature Have a Place in Anthrozoology?

Literature has been stimulating minds for centuries, as has science. This essay explores the need for both in the emerging field of anthrozoology. Anthrozoology is unique in its interdisciplinary approach to the sciences. By integrating zoology, anthropology, psychology, biology and others, this emerging field of study is examining interconnectivity in new and exciting ways. Literature and literary fiction play a large part in mental development. Literature is often a child’s first introduction to the other animals that share the planet and can act as a bridge to future animal interactions. People who read literary fiction show improved theory-of-mind and empathy scores. Reading and writing literary fiction improves mental processing. Literature can serve as a catharsis, an escape, and a mind-builder. Because of this, literature is a critically important tool in the anthrozoology toolbox.

By Michelle Szydlowski

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Technical Difficulties: Toward a Critical, Reflexive Stance on In Vitro Meat

This paper critically examines in vitro meat by the fundamental fact that it is a technological fix for problems associated with industrial meat production and a growing human population. Some issues discussed are applicable to technology in general, and others are particular to in vitro meat. Throughout the article, examples of other technological products are used to show precedence for the existence of uncertainties from technology, and thus we should also expect in vitro meat to give rise to unforeseen consequences. I take as a starting point that industrial meat production poses serious environmental and welfare concerns to both human and nonhuman animals. Further, in vitro meat is said to address all such issues with industrial meat. The literature on in vitro meat has so far been decidedly favorable on the whole, so this paper aims to balance these viewpoints by adding in a critical perspective. I end by discussing a general framework for a critical science and critical ethics that would be necessary in order to accept in vitro meat as a widespread and ethical alternative to traditional meat. If such conditions cannot be met, I argue that in vitro meat is not a responsible solution to current problems associated with meat production and consumption.

By Nathan Poirier

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Child-Canine Bonding in Children with ASD: Findings Within and Across Case Studies

The demand for support for families impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) continues to grow, and one increasingly popular avenue of support is the use of companion canines. Parents searching for service canines trained to work with children with ASD, however, face formidable obstacles surrounding the availability and cost of canines. Due to these challenges, parents may seek less formal routes to support their children with ASD, often adding companion canines to their family. Despite enthusiasm, little is known about human-animal bonding in children with ASD and research identifying factors that influence children on the spectrum’s ability to bond with a companion canine is meagre. Using a Family Systems approach and Bowlby’s Attachment theory, this exploratory case study sought to identify the pathways through which child-canine bonding occurs and the factors contributing to this bonding process. Families (N=6), with a child aged 5-14 years with a confirmed diagnosis of ASD and their family canine, participated in the study. Findings revealed that the child-canine bond in children with ASD can be conceptualized as an attachment relationship. Furthermore, seven themes characterizing child-canine bonding emerged. Findings highlight theoretical and applied implications within the fields of human-animal interaction (HAI) and ASD.

 By Kathryn Struik and John-Tyler Binfet

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Polar Similar: Intersections of Anthropology and Conservation

Anthropologists and conservationists have a long history of conflict, largely stemming from the creation of protected areas that are frequently placed on the land belonging to Indigenous communities for which anthropologists advocate. While this paper does not wish to diminish the values of either group regarding this conflict, it argues that anthropologists and conservationists actually have much to agree upon. The industrocentric paradigm, which places great value on continuous growth and profit, is increasingly degrading the land and threatening both the humans and nonhumans who sustain off of it. Not only do activities such as mining, logging, and globalized agriculture pollute waterways, decimate valuable forest habitat, and facilitate the poaching of a number of species, but they also destroy the homes and impinge upon the lifeways of various human populations who rely on the land and the species that live there for survival. Recognizing that industry is a common adversary of both humans and nonhumans opens up possibilities of bringing people together for a mutual cause.

By Nathan Poirier and Sarah Tomasello

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“It’s not that they sting you. It’s that they don’t sting you.” Beekeepers and the Narrative Construction of Human-honeybee Relationships

There are seemingly endless accounts available of the bond that is often formed between humans and other mammals. Far less, however, has been written on interactions between humans and animals of more pronounced physiological difference to us, for example, insects. The purpose of this study was to investigate how far it is possible for a human to experience meaningful interactions with, or even to form an attachment bond to, an animal of extreme phylogenetic difference to us, namely, the honeybee (Apis mellifera).

Preliminary research was conducted through an online survey posted on the UK’s most popular beekeeping forum. Three quarters of survey respondents indicated that they viewed their interactions with bees as a ‘relationship’ with the bees. The survey was followed up by in-depth interviews with four beekeepers, chosen to represent as varied a cross-section of beekeeper society as possible, in terms of attitude, method and experience. Through a narrative research approach three common themes were explored. These were the notion of communicating with bees, elements of risk and reward in beekeeping, and the human-bee co- creation of the hive space. Duranti’s description of culture as knowledge (1997), both propositional (‘know that’ information) and procedural (‘know-how’ information) was useful in exploring these themes. It was found that beekeepers experience their interactions with bees in intense, embodied ways that encourage them to form strong attachment bonds to their bee colonies.

By Kate Marx

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