Becoming the centaur : developing non-dominant human-horse relationships in Yorkshire
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This project will add to and build upon the existing anthropological literature on human-animal relations by challenging how categories such as ‘nature’, ‘culture’, ‘ethics’, ‘domestication’, and ‘kinship’ are deployed in a multispecies ethnography. I will use the knowledge practices of natural horsemanship in the UK as a lens to explore them through ideas of domination, the role of exemplars, personhood, becoming-with, ideas of freedom and control, the role of touch and embodied learning, mutual emotional responses, and the development of ‘skilled visions’. By building on the emergent anthropological field of multi-species ethnography through this ethically charged life-world, I propose to investigate natural horsemanship so that the outcome is relevant to the anthropological community, but also of interest for animal behaviourists, welfare experts, biologists, the ‘part-time-practitioners’ who were my informants, and more broadly, to the general public with an interest in human-animal relationships. It will hopefully provide new insights on multi-species ethnographies; expanding the potential of such endeavours by creating new anthropological theory on areas such as animal welfare, ethical worlding, kin-like relationships, and how the horse as an agentive subject in these relationships can affect these outcomes. This knowledge can then engage with branches of biological and veterinary science and provide detailed knowledge for animal welfare experts. It will consequently provide critical reflections on present equine training and welfare in the UK.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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