Animal IntimaciesInterspecies Relatedness in India's Central Himalayas

Animal IntimaciesInterspecies Relatedness in India's Central Himalayas

Radhika Govindrajan

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780226559841

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

What does it mean to live a life that is knotted with other lives for better or worse? This ethnography of everyday multispecies relationships in the mountain villages of India’s Central Himalayan region traces how human pasts, presents, and futures come to be bound up with those of the many nonhuman animals who share this world with them, creating ties of relatedness between them that trouble the “naturalness” of categories such as human and animal, nature and culture, kinship and biology. This multispecies relatedness does not erase the differences and hierarchies that exist between different animals in the social world of the Central Himalayas, but leads individuals to constantly and carefully negotiate their difference from one another through shifting turns to love, care, neglect, avoidance, and violence. Questions of interspecies ethics and justice, the book argues, are not imagined as transcendental, but are situated in this complicated world of everyday relatedness across difference. The book traces how such everyday forms of relatedness are shaped by and engage the broader political, religious, and environmental currents at work in contemporary India. At a time when people’s relationships with animals have become the subject of strident political and cultural debate in India, this book demonstrates how through their everyday encounters, people and animals create intense knots of relatedness that complicate and enrich our understandings of the nature of mutuality, ethics, and love.