Session: #267

Theme & Session Format

2. Net Zero Archaeologies – Sustainability in the Past, Present and Future
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Animals in Crisis: How Can Archaeology Contribute towards Solving Contemporary Problems in Animal Welfare?
Archaeology studies a wide array of human-animal relationships in past communities, such as hunting, trapping and fishing, animal husbandry, herding, and keeping companion animals – and everything in between. However, archaeological data and perspectives are underutilized in discussions on current ethical, moral, ecological and economic issues such as sustainable animal husbandry, biodiversity, rewilding, and pet breeding and trade. It could be argued that an essential element of the modern worldview is the assumption that animals are merely an amorphous mass rather than sentient, feeling individuals with their own agency. Animals are often “othered” to our human, conscious selves. Consequences of such views are, for example, keeping animals in small cages, hindering them from living out their species-specific behaviour or manufacturing and reproducing unhealthy breeds for human consumption or entertainment. Similarly, the current biodiversity crisis is sometimes linked to modern nature vs culture, us vs them dichotomies existent in many communities today. The local and global environmental consequences of these issues are plenty and dire. In this session, we call for papers that discuss how archaeological finds, case studies, and theoretical studies can participate in national and international debates concerning the moral, ethical, and practical aspects of today´s animal crises. Can we talk about animal welfare or exploitation in archaeological contexts? Can case studies from the past contribute to debates on rewilding, both practically and emotionally? Do we have finds demonstrating care and love towards domestic animals? And could archaeology become an agent for change towards best practices in contemporary human-animal relationships? We welcome discussion on these topics from a range of perspectives.
Human-animal relations, Animal welfare, Rewilding, Husbandry, Companion animals, Animal ethics
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Main organiser:
Kristiina Mannermaa (Finland) 1
Kristin Armstrong Oma (Norway) 2
Nathalie Brusgaard (Netherlands) 3
Tuija Kirkinen (Finland) 1
1. Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki
2. University of Stavanger, Museum of Archaeology
3. University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archaeology