This course examines animal-human relationships from multiple of theoretical perspectives to explore the various postitions that animals occupy in human life (as pets, food, friends, enemies, beings with rights, organ donors and spectacles of nature). It also introduces students to some of the theoretical cornerstones (and classic readings) of the discipline of Anthropology.
What are animals? How do we classify them? What sorts of relationships do animals have to humans? What can the anthropological exploration of animals and their relationships to humans tell us about ourselves? Animals and their relationships with people have been of interest to anthropologists for a long time, and some theoreticians have even suggested that the anthropological exploring of animal-human relationships allows the discipline to come to terms with its colonial past. Early understandings of animals focused on their sustenance and symbolic value, and structuralist perspectives placed animals centrally in marrige and other systems of great importance to human social lives. More recent approaches have retained the notion that animals are important because they offer insight into human conceptualisations of and actions in the world. These approaches, which arise from a multiple of theoretical perspectives, have attempted to nuance old dichotomies and to look into the interesting and sometimes conflicting positions that animals occupy as pets, food, friends, enemies, beings with rights, organ donors and spectacles of nature.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Understand the relevance of studying animals anthropologically;
- Appreciate the culturally-constituted dimensions of animals;
- Understand the various roles of animals in the discipline and its development, in webs of power and disempowerment, globalisation, social relations, debates about the constitution of human-ness, and culturally specific interpretations of animals;
- Participate in a community of scholars organised around an interest in animals; and
- Apply anthropological ideas and techniques to the study of animals.
Participation (15%) [Learning Outcomes 1-4]
Tutorial presentation, 15 minutes (20%) [Learning Outcomes 3, 4, 5]
Minor essay, 1500 words (15%) [Learning Outcomes 4, 5]
Major essay, 2500 words (40%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 3, 5]
In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle.
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of workshop and workshop-like activities; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing
Requisite and Incompatibility
None is required, but students will benefit from reading the following texts:
Mullins, M. 2002 ‘Animals in Anthropology' Society and Animals vol 10 (4) pp 378-393.
Mullin, M. 1999 ‘Mirrors and Windows: Sociocultural Studies of Human-Animal Relationships' Annual Review of Anthropology 28 201-24.
Bulliet, R. 2005 Hunters, Herders, and Hamburgers: The Past and Future of Human-Animal Relationships. Col.:Columbia UP
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees. Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.