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.
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.
John Steinbeck perceives the natural world in The Red Pony as uncaring and unforgiving and predatory since it is full of predators which are in a constant conflict against one another. Such a conflict occurs either between animals and animals or between humans and animals or between humans and humans. At last it results in the survival of the fittest. Steinbeck demonstrates here his knowledge about little boys’ behavior toward animals, and how they have to be taught not to be cruel to animals; Jody Tiflin is a good example. Also, Steinbeck shows us how human and animal lives are closely connected. In this case, old Gitano and old Easter are good examples. Besides, Steinbeck reveals how Jody Tiflin ascends from boyhood to manhood. Jody’s acquisition of the red pony lifts him above his friends. One should remember that Steinbeck is enamored of the Arthurian cycle and so Steinbeck believes that the horse is of key importance to the knight. This idea can clearly be seen in “The Leader of the People” when the grandfather tells the Tiflin family and Billy Buck about his knighthood when he leads his people across the plains to fight the Indians.
Animal-assisted interventions (AAI) on learning and mental health is an evolving matter within psychology. In past history, such mediations have been held to ridicule by scholars who deemed animals to be insignificant within the field. Today, the American Humane Association postulates that the objective of AAI is a goal-directed movement, used to improve one’s “social, cognitive or emotional functioning” (Ganzert, 2013). “Animal- assisted Intervention” is an umbrella term for what is traditionally known as animal-assisted therapy (AAT), animal-assisted activities (AAA), and animal-assisted education (AAE). This paper seeks to provide a comprehensive review of extant empirical research on AAI as a tool to enhance children’s learning outcomes.
By Robyn Lawes
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