What is an Animal? Tuesday, July 19

Everyone who has ever had a beloved pet knows there is often a special bond between animals and humans.  But did you know that the nature of those relationships depends on cultural context?

Patricia K. Anderson, PhD, CPBC (IAABC), is an anthropologist, anthrozoologist, and archaeologist who has been studying the human-animal bond since 1999. On Tuesday, July 19 at the 6:30, she will share her expertise at the Princeton Public Library. Topics of discussion will include: how culture interprets what an animal is, the animal mind, living and working humanely with animals, animal companions, and animals as healers.

Humans have interacted with other species as long as we have existed. Animals play profoundly important roles in the lives of humans, whether as food, companion, spiritual guide, totemic ancestor or fictive family member. It has been argued that all human interactions with animals and nature take place within a cultural context. This presentation considers how culture shapes our beliefs about other species and contributes to current animal and environmental problems.

Even the answer to the deceptively simple question, “What is an Animal?” varies widely, depending on cultural and historical contexts. In this presentation we consider how culture affects human-animal interactions in a variety of cross-cultural contexts, ranging from small-scale nonindustrial societies to the modern industrial world. From creator beings, to ancestors, to shape shifters, family members, and food, human relationships with animals and their habitats are mediated by culture.

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