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.
This paper has five parts. These parts seek to accomplish two tasks—first, address the expanding studies known variously as “Animal Studies,” “Anthrozoology” and a host of other names, and, second, explore how these fields stand in relation to the popular term “animal rights.” Exploring these tasks pushes all of us to engage which dimensions of our human lives must be mobilized to engage the profoundly important fact that each and every human lives in a multispecies world that is well described as a “more-than-human world.” Our citizenship in such a multispecies world not only suggests the possibility of non-anthropocentric worldviews—our awareness of this larger community also begs a broader, more inclusive perspective than the human-centered and exceptionalist approaches that dominate our education establishment, political realms, legal systems, businesses and many religious institutions. What further begs such breadth and inclusion is the fact that personally, ecologically and thus ethically each of us lives in a fascinating and distinctive series of nested communities replete with other-than-human neighbors. Our local lives and places are embedded in a world that is so clearly shared and more-than-human that our natural abilities to be curious and caring are sparked by the mere presence of nonhuman living beings. We are creatures that need to notice this spark, then protect and ignite it, in order to ground our own personal moral and cognitive development and that of our children.
By Paul Waldau