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215. Interspecies Intimacy: Evolving Human-Animal Socialities in Asia

Sat, March 18, 10:45am to 12:45pm, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Concourse Level, VIP Room

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel


Paying by the hour to spend time with a cat in Japan, wildlife rehabilitators training apes to fear people in Malaysia, theorizing human-animal ethics through Buddhism in the Republican Era of China, and purchasing a cat while countess strays wander the streets in Japan– scholarship on the intimate relationships between humans and animals is making it increasingly clear that the affective bonds between people and their non-human companions are more complex than the master-pet dichotomy, as Yi-Fu Tuan (1984) famously argued. Our inter-area/border-crossing panel focuses on the intimate relationships people have with non-human animals and aims to explore the connection between broader social developments in Asia, especially in relation to issues of sociality, affect or intimacy. These papers draw an understanding of intimacy from an array of Asianists (Dave 2014; Nguyen 2014; Parrenas, Thai and Silvey 2016; Stoler 2002; Wilson 2004) to explore the cultures within these relationships with animals develop. This panel argues that understanding a region necessitates an understanding of the kinds of intimate relations people have with others, including non-human others, encompassing qualities of bonding and family, and at the same time, issues of exploitation, commoditization and domination.

Building on cross-historical research focused on human-animal relations bounded within specific regions, such as Pflugfelder and Walker’s (2005) Japanimals and Robert Cribb., Helen Gilbert, and Helen Tiffin’s (2014) cultural history of the orangutan that is endemic to present-day Indonesia and Malaysia, this panel kindles connections across regional borders to develop new trajectories in the ever-expanding “animal turn” in Asia.

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