History and Theory 56, no.

2 (June 2017), 267-287 © Wesleyan University 2017 ISSN: 0018-2656
DOI: 10.1111/hith.12018


The Historical Animal. Edited by Susan Nance. Syracuse: Syracuse University
Press, 2015. Pp. ix, 405.

This review reflects on animal history as a subfield of the discipline of history and presents
its main arguments and future tasks. Its main goal is to identify the new research pros-
pects and potentials proposed by the book edited by Susan Nance, The Historical Animal.
These include such topics as the problem of “the animal’s point of view,” animal agency
(animals understood as “historical” agents and actors), the problem of identifying traces
of animal actions in “anthropocentric” archives and searching for new historical sources
(including animals’ testimonies). It also explores methodological difficulties, especially
with the idea of the historicization of animals and the possible merger of the humanities
and social sciences with the natural and life sciences. The review considers how studying
animals forces scholars to rethink to its foundations history as a discipline. It claims that
the most progressive proposals are coming from scholars (many of whom are historians)
who advocate radical interdisciplinarity. The authors are not only interested in merging
history with specific sciences (such as animal psychology, ecology, ethology, evolutionary
biology, and zoology), but also question basic assumptions of the discipline: the epistemic
authority claimed by historians for building knowledge of the past as well as the human
epistemic authority for creating such knowledge. In this context several questions emerge:
can we achieve “interspecies competence” (Erica Fudge’s term) for creating a multispe-
cies knowledge of the past? Can research on animals’ perception of change help us to
develop nonhistorical approaches to the past? Can we imagine accounts of the past based
on multispecies co-authorship?

Keywords: interspecies past, animal history, human–animal relationship, animal agency,
animal’s point of view, non-anthropocentric archive, historical sources, animal’s testi-
mony, radical interdisciplinarity

The Historical Animal is a genuinely multidisciplinary enterprise that embraces
such fields as art history, environmental history, social history, history of science,
but also literary studies and animal behavior sciences. The authors represent dif-
ferent stages of academic careers (PhD candidates, a postdoctoral fellow, assis-
tant, associate, and senior professors), different countries (Canada, Germany,
South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the US), and various methodological orientations
(articles vary from presenting good, classic historical craft with no theoretical
ambitions, through advanced historical research enriched by theoretical reflection
and innovative ways of thinking, to quite radical—to anthropocentrist histori-
ans—texts that push animal history beyond the discipline of history). The book is
made up of the editor’s introduction and sixteen articles that are structured around

1. I would like to thank Paul Roth, David Gary Shaw, and Hayden White for their valuable com-
ments on an earlier draft of this article.


five main themes: I. Historicizing Nonhumans, II. Archives and the Animal
Trace, III. The Animal Factor of Historical Causation, IV. Animals Coping with/
Adapting to Us, and V. Documenting Interspecific Partnerships. The volume
also has a comprehensive bibliography, helpful endnotes, biographical notes on
contributors, and carefully crafted indexes.
I have decided that, instead of writing a kind of descriptive or critical assess-
ment, I will try to meet the challenges this information-rich, multilayered, critical,
and theoretically ambitious anthology presents and propose a “reconstructive”
approach to writing a book review. Thus, on the basis of a deep analysis of indi-
vidual texts as well as of the book as a whole, I will try to summarize, recreate,
and recapture the main tasks, principles, and analytical categories proposed for
the constitution of a field of animal history as it is presented in the volume. At
the end, I will delineate frontline research pointing toward future investigations
in the field of animal history and perhaps even in the field of history in general. I
will also approach the book critically but with no intention to criticize it. Rather,
I will apply what Elizabeth Grosz called “the affirmative method.”2 That is, my
focus will be on the work’s positive aspects and key concepts, while concentrat-
ing on those elements of the text that could open up interpretations of previously
overlooked possibilities.
I divide the article into five parts: 1) the first analyzes the problem of “the ani-
mal’s point of view,” 2) the second deals with one of the main themes of animal
history, namely animal agency and animals understood as “historical” agents and
actors; 3) the third considers the problem of identifying traces of animal actions
in “anthropocentric” archives and searching for new historical sources; 4) the
fourth considers methodological problems, especially with the idea of historici-
zation of animals and “radical” interdisciplinarity; 5) and, finally in conclusion,
I will reflect on “animal history” as a subfield of history, present its main argu-
ments and tasks, and identify its promises.


“The animal’s point of view” is a paraphrase of a classic statement made
by Bronislaw Malinowski in his Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922).
Malinowski argued that the main goal of the ethnographer is “to grasp the
native’s point of view.” The “native’s point of view” came to be considered a
legitimate and necessary point of departure of anthropological study. For the sake
of further argument, I will cite a whole fragment that will help to contextualize
Malinowski’s statement.
[T]he goal of ethnographic field-work must be approached through three avenues:
1. The organisation of the tribe, and the anatomy of its culture must be recorded in
firm, clear outline. The method of concrete, statistical documentation is the means through
which such an outline has to be given.
2. Within this frame, the imponderabilia of actual life, and the type of behaviour have
to be filled in. They have to be collected through minute, detailed observations, in the
form of some sort of ethnographic diary, made possible by close contact with native life.

2. Elizabeth Grosz, Time Travels: Feminism, Nature, Power (Durham, NC: Duke University Press,
2005), 3.

emphasis in original. 171. Through various historical written and material sources. Clifford Geertz. 6. this approach meets a severe criticism in anthropology. minori- ties. briefly. These three lines of approach lead to the final goal.” the perceived lack of opportunity or inability to “speak for oneself” invites the rescuing discourse of inherent “rights” to supplement this silence. and observations. 63. Zeb Tortorici confesses that “I was also wary of how. I discuss this problem in “The Return to Things. 4. typical utterances. .3 It seems to me not only that Malinowski’s idea of writing ethnography from the “native’s point of view” is close to the goals that are leading many scholars interested in writing animal history. to realise his vision of his world. 2013). given that I am wary of the colonizing gesture of purporting to be able to speak for another being or individual” (87-88).4 Other anthropologists observed that to apply the concept of the “native’s point of view” privileges the native. historians are trying to grasp animal (typical and sometimes strange) behavior and to document animal lives. as docu- ments of native mentality. Bronislaw Malinowski.5 My reason for highlighting the problem of “the native/animal point of view” is that animal historians use this phrase uncritically and so fall into the same trap as anthropologists. according to Neil L. For example. Scholars are trying to show how animals are an important part of our world and history as well as of our species (exactly as Malinowski viewed the importance of natives). they do often remain at the margins of analysis. perhaps this is partly unavoidable. However.’ Even as scholars increasingly incorporate animals into historical narratives. colonised people. no. They also treat animals as “others” who cannot speak for themselves. While trying to infuse things with agency. 5. Clifford Geertz was skeptical about Malinowski. A Passage to Anthropology: Between Experience and Theory [1995] (London and New York: Routledge. who in his view romanticized the fieldwork (perhaps there is an analogy here with historians fetishizing his- torical sources). It also requires a presupposition that we can actually understand the world from the native’s point of view and present natives accurately and in such a way that would not violate their perception of themselves and their world. his relation to life.” This approach characterizes discussions about things before relational epistemology became popular.” Archaeologia Polona 44 (2006). archaeologists were treating material objects as “others. 1 (October 1974). “‘From the Native’s Point of View’: On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding. items of folk-lore and magical formulæ has to be given as a corpus inscriptionum. This approach still resonates also in The Historical Animal. A collection of ethnographic statements. Whitehead. just as with the category of “children. of which an Ethnographer should never lose sight. similarly formed in conditions of relative lack of power as that of women. The world cannot be made up in theory. queer individuals” (125-126).6 This has significant methodological consequences for the project 3. In my case. Concepciøn Cortés Zulueta writes that the new perspective offered by Michael’s (animal) story reveals a previously “neglected and ignored other that has a point of view. ANIMAL HISTORY 269 3. 2014). ‘the logic of domination is inherent in our attempts to write animals in. This goal is. Kristen Hastrup criticizes this position: “The criteria of theoretical acceptability of reasonable- ness are neither given by God nor by the natives. 26-45. to grasp the native’s point of view. They are posed in a scholarly community of possible dissenters and depend on a degree of fit with experience.” Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 28. 171-185. documen- tary films. characteristic narratives. Argonauts of the Western Pacific [1922] (London and New York: Routledge. In a similar way.” Kirsten Hastrup. assuming that s/he has a better understanding than an observer has. but also that the principles of research are quite similar.” As such it is analogous to a “perspective.

it resonates in the problem of conceptualizing the main theme of animal history: animal agency. Witmore. As defined by Christopher L. UK: Polity Press. 32 (Spring/Fall 2015). une autre version de l’histoire (Paris: Seuil.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13. as is frequently assumed. behavior. Concepción Cortés Zulueta’s “Nonhuman Animal Testimonies: A Natural History in the First Person?” Zulueta analyzes an online video entitled Michael’s Story.” This approach is influenced by Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory and concerns mainly relations between people and things. no. Le Point de vue animal. as detached and separated entities a priori.” in Animal Consciousness and Animal Ethics: Perspectives from the Netherlands. “Symmetrical Archaeology: Excerpts of a Manifesto. the term “animal’s point of view” is understood in terms of a possibility of interspecies communication. 1 (March 1990). Marian Stamp Dawkins. but to fragments of an article written by an art historian. ed.” Christopher L. “The World from a Dog’s Point of View: A Review and Synthesis of Dog Cognition Research. “‘The World the Horses Made’: A South African Case Study of Writing Animals into Social History.9 However. Fitness. une autre version de l’histoire (The Animal Point of View: Another Version of History) in a similar way covers many ideas presented in the volume under review. The Netherlands: Van Gorcum. Any radical separation. In this context.” International Review of Social History 55. Cf. Le Point de vue animal. Subjective experience should be approached on its own conceptual grounds. “From an Animal’s Point of View: Motivation.270 EWA DOMAŃSKA of “writing animals into history. 10. 208-228. supplement (2012).” Advances in the Study of Behavior 45 (2013). as a perspective. 8.’” Françoise Wemelsfelder. (Assen. Éric Baratay. no. Witmore. opposition and contradiction between people and the material world within which they live is regarded as the outcome of a specifically modern way of distributing entities and segmenting the world. 4 (2007). “Symmetrical Archaeology. as ‘behavers. writing history from “the ani- mal’s point of view” is a metaphor expressing a desire for a more “symmetrical history”8 that would approach animals as subjects and agents. also Miles K.” Inspired by philosophy of language and phenomenology. Cf. 2012). Baratay is also interested in presenting “the animal side of history. . 145-165. and David L. fundamentally inaccessible to external observes. she writes about access to animal subjec- tive experience. 1-9. . Animals then are perceived as agents. Marcel Dol et al. Samuel D. See also: Bjørnar Olsen. and documenting lived animal experi- ences. and psychology.” World Archaeology 39. 546. 9. Indeed. Where He Signs about His Family. when Nance in the index records “point of view. 209-406. no. also his “Pourquoi prendre le point de vue animal?” Religiologiques. 1997). ed. no. “Challenges for Historians Writing Animal–Human History: What Is Really Enough?” Anthrozoös 25. She argues that “the subjective experience of well-being and suffering in animals is not. I use the term “symmetrical history” by analogy to “symmetrical archaeology.” going beyond the human history of animals (l’histoire humaine des animaux). and Animal Welfare. Gosling. the pages given do not refer to places where the phrase “animal’s point of view” actually exists.” in Archaeological Theory Today. 55-60. Bensky. symmetrical archaeology is based on an assump- tion that “humans and non-humans should not be regarded as ontologically distinct. Françoise Wemelsfelder presents a different approach to the “the animal’s point of view. The video “shows a male gorilla who uses a modified version of American Sign Language (ASL) to answer 7. “this is not a proposal to seek identification with an animal’s experience ‘from within. Sinn. of animals” (403). Ian Hodder (Cambridge. Éric Baratay’s book. Hilda Kean. 73. also Sandra Swart. 241-263. Cf. 2012). 2 (2010).” which is currently considered as too limited in its goals. in terms of what-it-is-like-to-be a particular individual animal.” As Wemelsfelder stresses.7 Also.’ whose dynamic style of interaction may be taken as an expressive criterion for their subjective experience. this view derives from the misguided conception of experience as a ‘causal object’ in mechanistic models of behavior. . . “Investigating the Animal’s Point of View: An Enquiry into a Subject-Based Method of Measurement in the Field of Animal Welfare.10 It is worth noting that the problem so familiar to anthropologists of (cross- cultural) translation in The Historical Animal emerges as the problem of inter- species translation. for scientists working on animal cognition.

13. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro.” Analytica 19. tell us stories. . kinship. and human–animal cogni- tion require a different way of knowing the past from the one offered by historical epistemology with its specific understanding of time. W. I also wonder whether and how “virtue perspectivism” might be connected to perspectivism understood as a specific animist cosmology. 1 (1966). . as proposed by Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. but I would like to suggest that such challenging issues as writing history from the animal point of view.” 11. Mink. Louis O. and Morton White. We in turn can ask about the way they think about themselves and their surroundings. 1987). Richard T Vann. Gallie. 2015). Gallie. Such statements inspire a paraphrase of the title of Geertz’s well-known essay that might be formulated in the following way: “‘From the Animal’s Point of View’: On the Nature of Historical Understanding. Zulueta claims that the video might be understood as a “first person account” (she also calls it “testimony. in order to problematize human–animal interdependency.12 It is not my task here to discuss Sosa’s approach in detail. who in the 1960s analyzed “historical understand- ing” in the mode of the analytical philosophy of history. 1 (2015).” 123). also Eros Moreira de Carvalho and Flavio Williges. Mink. change. Danto. rationality. Cf. 1964). Indeed.” History and Theory 5. 2007) and his Judgment and Agency (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. and his The Relative Native: Essays on Indigenous Conceptual Worlds (Chicago: Hau Books. and co-substance. Ernest Sosa. 469-488. human–animal communication. I would also look for inspiration that it might provide to build nonhuman ways of perceiving/sensing changes. and Eugene Owen Golob (Middletown.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 4. and his Historical Understanding. ed.” Sosa distinguishes animal knowledge from reflec- tive knowledge. ANIMAL AGENCY (ANIMALS AS NONHUMAN AGENTS AND ACTORS) An interest in agency expressed by (animal) historians should be seen in the context of a major tendency that is called “the agentive turn in social theory. In com- parison to this approach. 24-47. Brian Fay. classic studies by Arthur C. ANIMAL HISTORY 271 the question ‘what can you tell me about your mother?’” (118). In what he calls “virtue perspectivism. 2 (1998). space. “Cosmological Deixis and Amerinidan Perspectivism. B. CT: Wesleyan University Press. I refer to Sosa in order to indicate the possibility of reconsidering the important place that analytical philosophy of history once had in theoretical reflection about the past. about how they remember things” (121). and causality. “They [apes] can . “Sosa on Animal Knowledge and Emotions. no.11 But I would not dismiss such a track of thinking too easily—especially not after reading articles by one of the main representatives of virtue epistemology (associated with the contemporary analytic philosophy): Ernest Sosa. she continues. It seems that conventional interpretive modes of under- standing and interpretation still predominate in The Historical Animal. . 145-160. Louis O. no. no.” This indicates a theoretical problem that emerges from the above considerations: how the nature of histori- cal understanding as such changes when scholars apply the animal’s perspective and seriously consider animal testimonies as a way of communicating past events and as historical sources.13 II. 12. A Virtue Epistemology: Apt Belief and Reflective Knowledge (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2015). Philosophy and the Historical Understanding (London: Chatto & Windus. might look irrelevant. B. W. “The Autonomy of Historical Understanding.

Bruno Latour. 15. Mary C. ed. and nature in general characterizes non-Western worldviews. xvii-xviii. and Patricia Spyer (London: Sage. Warren. are not intended to privilege any class of person but to draw attention to degree of relationality. 17. . “Agency ‘In Itself’: A Discussion of Inanimate. . and Relational Epistemology. A useful summary of the “agentive turn” in archeology is presented in Janet Hoskins.” Annual Review of Anthropology 30 (2001) 130. . Michael Rowlands. 74-84. The ubiquity of terms like respect and reciprocity in animist discourse demonstrates that the key identifier of a person is some- one who responds to or initiates approaches to other person. People become animists by learning how to recognise persons and. Carl Knappett and Lambros Malafouris (Berlin: Springer. the absence of agency). “Animism. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham. “Animal . Jones and Nicole Boivin. . personalities. ed. Irving Hallowell. Persons are volitional. that humans are the primary examples of personhood. 2013). cultural and social beings. . . plants. plants. A. Re-Animating Thought.” Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 71. 2006). “The Malice of Inanimate Objects: Material Agency. the problem of agency was a main topic of political and theoretical debates. Behavior. in Readings in Indigenous Religions. Persons may be spoken with. . 9-20. . and World View” (1960). “Language and Agency. as poststructuralism and deconstruction slowly transformed into “critical posthumanism. and Jane Bennett. . Archaeologists and anthropologists for years have been trying to comprehend the agency of material objects and to discuss the problem of material agency. Fetishism. “Ojibwa Ontology. 1 (March 2006). The main theme of the discussions became a critique of anthropocentrism and the recentering of nonhuman agents: animals. Perhaps rock persons might speak of ‘other-than-rock persons’ while tree persons might speak of ‘other-than-tree persons’. . how to engage with them. Graham Harvey (Stocksfield. Andrew M. material objects. Cf. Tim Ingold. 207- 238. “Rethinking the Animate. Ahearn. no. Alf Hornborg. Animal and Human Agency. . also Material Agency: Towards a Non-Anthropocentric Approach. Crucial for recent debates about agency in anthropology and archaeology have been the books by Alfred Gell. 2005). Biography. Material objects and their potential capacity to act and make changes in the surrounding environ- ment became particularly attractive subjects of research and the topic of vigorous debates. Laura M. See also Brian Morris. 16. 1 (2006). Graham Harvey (London: Continuum. Torill Christine Lindstrøm. The attribution of agency to nonhuman animals. Nurit Bird- David. no. and biographies.16 With animism. The Handbook of Contemporary Animism. Webb Keane. Susanne Küchler. 1998). Louis S. NC: Duke University Press.” in Handbook of Material Culture. UK: Acumen Publishing. 2010). Art and Agency (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Such phrases. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor- Network Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press. an idea such as that of a nonhuman person came to be understood in a way different from the one proposed by the discourse of law and animal rights. Environment. .” Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 71. “Agency. Animism: Respecting the Living World (New York: Columbia University Press.272 EWA DOMAŃSKA In the framework of an earlier “new humanities” (and of critical theory). There is nothing in these discourses that should be understood as implying .” in The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies.14 The late 1990s. and Objects. 2008). ed. and things. relational. 2002).” Harvey. Animism. Animals and Ancestors: An Ethnography (Oxford: Berg Publishers. 567-591. They demonstrate intentionality and agency with varying degrees of autonomy and freedom. equating agency and resistance. ed. ed. 2000). Beaudry and Dan Hicks (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. and Objectivism as Strategies for Knowing (or not Knowing) the World. . Graham Harvey. 2010). social lives.” Archaeological Dialogues 22 (2015).” Current Anthropology 40 (February 1999). 21-32. Christopher Tilley. 18-49. Graham Harvey gives the following definition of what a person is: “Persons are those with whom other persons interact with varying degree of reciprocity.15 This agentive turn is also related to the animist turn.17 With the growing interest in indigenous 14.” brought a major change in the understanding of agency as such. Scholars were interested in various understandings and forms of human agency (agency as free will. far more important. if unwieldy. 333-351. 2006). Artifacts came to be perceived as active subjects or persons that have identities. “‘Animism’ Revisited: Personhood. .

ANIMAL HISTORY 273 cosmologies. such as Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory. 5 (2015). Agency. Montgomery and Linda Kalof. not power”—states Nance in the “Introduction” (3).” Ahearn. and became rather a specific mode of being in the world typical for a relational subject under- stood as an element of various networks or/and assemblages.” Environmental History 16 (July 2011). and Class: Writing the History of Animals from Below. Agency and Resistance. “[A]nimals have always had agency but. agency. 2010).” Cambridge Archaeological Journal 21. 1 (2003). and the influence of indigenous ways of knowing and indigenous knowledges on Western academia (especially in Australia. a known topos of the New Social History with its aim to “give the slaves back their agency” (and also to women. 3 (October 2011). “History from Below. Canada. on the one hand. Cf. 223).” is inter- ested in conceptualizing a revised notion of “agency. 18. and so on) and to focus on groups that have been neglected or excluded from history. Walter Johnson has indicated human agency and resistance as used in slavery scholarship in “On Agency. “Beyond ‘Resistance’: Rethinking Nonhuman Agency for a ‘More-than- Human’ World. and Latin America). intentional. 407-426.” Human Ecology Review 14.20 Several essays published in The Historical Animal follow Pearson’s suggestions and present an advanced theoretical view of agency traditionally understood as monolithic. In The Historical Animal the concept of nonhuman agents is present as the main category of analysis.” 115. 76). “Animals as Agents: Hunting Ritual and Relational Ontologies in Prehistoric Alaska and Chukotka. Hribal. Andria Pooley-Ebert. “historical actors” (Tortorici. 35-47. Animals as Historical Subjects. 1 (2007). Walter Johnson. In the book. freely-willing human being. He also finds problematic the idea of describing nonhuman agency as resistance. 203). to the indig- enous. 322-340. Jason C. 3 (2013). the chal- lenge is making this agency do historical work. Margo DeMello and Georgina Montgomery (New York: Lantern Books.18 Animal historians often follow this pattern. rational. 413– 417. Ahearn in 2001 claimed that “[f]or anthropologists in particular. whether or not historians recognize and theorize it. For example. “active historical sub- jects” (Foote and Gunnels. This is. in “Species Agency: A Comparative Study of Horse–Human Relationships in Chicago and Rural Illinois. . 20. Empowering the (animal) subject and finding proof of animal agency becomes the main task of writing animal history.” 130). of course. thus using it to enrich our under- standing of the past” (Swanson. “Animal agency is real—claims Drew A. no. 21). The need to disentangle the concepts of humanity. “Animals. 241). “Animals. on the other.” in Teaching the Animal: Human–Animal Studies across Disciplines.” She introduces the concept of “species agency” that includes an idea of animal agency. but “goes further by Visions: Rethinking the History of the Human Future. no. Erica Hill. no. and associated with intentionality (Swanson.” Journal of Social History 37. “On Agency. and “autono- mous wild animal actors of the past” (Zehnle. 101-112. Bob Carter and Nickie Charles. agency lost its dominant association with the self-aware. 251).19 Chris Pearson recently suggested abandoning the model of agency offered by social history. Swanson. ed. Chris Pearson. 710. marginalized.” European Review of History: Revue européenne d’histoire 22. it is important to avoid treating agen- cy as a synonym for free will or resistance. “Language and Agency.” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 43. and the popularity of “new material culture studies” and actor-network theory. no. no. Georgina G. which often equates agency with resistance and adoption of non- anthropocentric approaches to agency. 19. 113-124. animals are called “subjects and (unknown) agents of historical change” (Colby. human. often. and resistance was expressed by scholars working on human agency quite a long time ago (Laura M.

no. we are beyond agency. we have learned what we can from the concept and can move on. but rather that it was an integral component in a complex relationship” (152). John Robb concludes that “[i]n many ways.” Shaw uses Latour’s actor-network theory to research travel networks in later medieval England in which “horses were conspicuous players” (136) and as such created historical change (147). John Robb. it is worth retaining the concept in our field’s discursive consciousness. As we read in her essay. When analyzing a debate about agency in archaeology. Nicola Foote and Charles W. in “Too Sullen for Survival: Historicizing Gorilla Extinction. “Beyond Agency. As he claims.”21 It would be too radical for historians 21. historical records show that “horses played a role in shaping their own environment and often managed to delineate the terms of their servi- tude to humankind in important ways. Drew A. Dolly Jørgensen. In a similar way. in her essay “Migrant Muskoxen and the Naturalization of National Identity in Scandanavia.” World Archaeology 42. . 149).” writes that “Gorillas had become agents in compelling scientists and conservationists to embrace a limited experiment in protecting these crea- tures in situ” (183). 1900–1930. Swanson (“Mountain Meeting Ground: History at an Intersection of Species”) has a theoretical ambition to challenge the dichotomy between human and animal agency. Noah Cincinnati. that they are only oper- ating as peoples’ things in human plots” (147). “Thinking of the muskoxen as migrants allows us to see when individual animals have been forcibly acted upon by humans wielding power and when individual animals have been able to exercise their own agency” (199). Equine agency. because compliance and cooperation was usually a more pervasive behavioral trait than defiance” (150).274 EWA DOMAŃSKA investigating species-specific behaviors through interdisciplinary exploration” (Pooley-Ebert. 515. Swanson proposes to focus on “the spaces of interaction between human and animals” as expressions of interspecies relationships that he calls “meeting grounds” (240. should not be thought of merely in terms of resistance. Pooley-Ebert claims that “giving an animal historical agency is not necessary implying that the animal acted independently. However. Gunnels show the problem of agency understood in terms of resistance in a different light. therefore. consequently. 242). When challenging the notion of the inherent passivity of animals. He is interested in “the joint nature of agency in a way that does not deny or detract from the historical power of either” (240). An understanding of nonhierarchical agency is proposed by David Gary Shaw in “Horses and Actor-Networks: Manufacturing Travel in Later Medieval England. the authors use zoology and evolutionary theory to examine Galapagos animals’ reaction to contact with humans and their ability to resist efforts to kill or trap them (205). 4 (2010). ANT helps us to challenge “the assumption that animals never are crucial or central.” describes an accident when in 1964 muskoxen killed a woman who was in a group of peo- ple who wanted to observe the animal and entered their property (193). Following a definition of agency proposed by Vinciane Despret. Pooley-Ebert makes an important move when pushing ani- mals out of the paradigm of victimhood and agency seen as resistance.

25 Thus.’” 719. Agency is a concept that was once vital to persuading scholars that they should care about animals. but rather—as the authors in The Historical Animal are doing—try to find out what kind of under- standing of agency would be able to push animal history beyond the New Social History paradigm and to deactivate agency as “a hammer for animal history.” Body Politics 2 (2014).” but with the condition that historical agency would also include nonhumans and that we continue to explore connections between human and nonhuman agency. it does not take animals and humans nor actors and subjects as a point of departure. Heft 4. 24. . intentionality and responsibility should remain key components of history. problematizing the idea of agency (especially agency as equal to resistance). resistance” without erasing it from the metalanguage of animal history. 26. newspaper articles. “Beyond ‘Resistance. 274. Probably they would rather share Pearson’s view that “human agency. social. “Animal History as Body History: Four Suggestions from a Genealogical Perspective. . SOURCES. Pearson. children’s literature. Future work is better served using agency as a starting point and mapping the varied economic. no. who claims: there is one subject in animal history that scholars should move beyond: agency. .” Lindstrøm. “Animal History after Its Triumph: Unexpected Animals. For example. Evolutionary Approaches. because it is predicated on a model of historical agents as autonomous individual actors.26 “Locating animals 22. III. political.” History Compass 14. ANIMAL HISTORY 275 right now to follow such a move. AND ARCHIVES “[O]ur archives and museums have been structured to document human agency and life. Joshua Specht. but rather makes bodies and their changing production into an object of historical investigation.”24 Such a move does not mean. “Agency ‘In Itself’. and the Animal Lens. Today. agency might be decentered and delinked from social his- tory’s triad “humanity/human rights. 23. the agency paradigm is actually counterproductive. disaggregated from a broader historical structure. . TRACES. 331-332. agency. Scott A. . I paraphrase Torill Christine Lindstrøm’s words: “‘Agency’ seems to have become ‘a hammer’ for archaeology.” Pascal Eitler. . it would mean not perceiving animals and humans in binary opposition between victims and victimizers.22 But we might be surprised by the words of historian Joshua Specht. pet-keeping manuals. . as well as concepts of actor and agent (including dismissing these concepts as a point of departure in writing animal history).23 Perhaps we should not be so quick to dismiss agency as such. In this sense. and cultural contexts in which animals are embedded. EVIDENCE. Pascal Eitler proposes considering animal history as body history and understanding it as “a special form of Social History” that “aims less at following an emphatic ‘history from below’ and more at developing a distant ‘history from outside’ to the extent that this is at all possible. however. when analyzed in a sensitive way. Miltenberger shows how (more or less conventional) historical sources such as state records. The basic task of an animal historian is to trace every evidence of animal life in existing historical sources. abandoning social history itself as a frame- work for practicing animal history (or as a kind of social history).” observes Nance (10).” 207. As suggested by several contributors. but the paradigm has outlived its utility. 7 (2016). 25. reveal information that helps him to develop an idea of an “anthrozootic city” (262-263).

one of the possible ways of creating a non-anthropocentric archive would be to change the way the images (and other source materials) are described. .” Lisa Cox points out the significance of veterinary tools (instruments used for dental work and castrations. mice). which allowed them to reproduce in unstable environments” (217). More important. of something that happened in the recent past” (118). surgical instruments) as important historical evidence that proves “the importance and place of material history in uncover- ing historical animals” (101). Another task is to activate unconventional sources. 85 shows “traces of pests in a 1584 archival document. book lice.” says Nance (10). declare Foote and Gunnels (213). they force us to think about the very concept of animals. The photo on p. Zulueta analyzes video that she proposes to understand as “a first person account. In “Finding Animals in History: Veterinary Artifacts and the Use of Material History. takes “an ethnographic approach to the colonial archive. Tortorici comments on the physical presence of animals in the archive as “evidenced by the leather and animal glue used to bind so many archival manuscripts together” (83). Tortorici observes. . demonstrates that tortoises displayed relatively low fecundity stress.” Cox claims that “textual sourc- es may indicate an ideal or professionally accepted way that animals interacted with people in terms of their health. Zeb Tortorici.276 EWA DOMAŃSKA in the historical sources can be a puzzle. Such accounts challenge us to think about “what constitutes histori- cal evidence and personal testimony” (Nance. 11). as cited by Tortorici. These are. Interpretations of primary sources through the lens of zoological categories help us to trace and explain animal behavior and certain phenomena that scientif- ic methods are not able to explain.27 Tortorici indicates that such traces as “squashed bodies” that stain documents inspire us to “re-theorize how we might organize and understand modes of animality in the historical record” 27. the belief that only human beings can narrate. by a nonhuman animal. rats. For example.” but as reference material they require “looking at historical evidence in different ways. following Ann Stoler and Nicholas Dirks. Archives “thrive with nonhuman life” (bacteria. For example. the value of anecdotal evidence (and poetry) as “a legitimate (and direct) means of illustrating the historical importance of human–animal bonding” is highlighted by Andrew McEwen in “‘He Took Care of Me’: The Human–Animal Bond in Canada’s Great War” (275). insects. Using these artifacts “may provide a stronger case for viewing animals as historical actors. “[e]vidence from non-scientific written records . what Sarah Kay calls “ghostly imprints” (83). with more sensitivity to the way that nonhuman actors are represented (4). Special attention is required for what is probably the most challenging of animal history phenomena: accounts of their lives created by animals themselves. .” He treats historical archives as “condensed sites of species anxieties—places where species boundaries are continuously reified and ruptured” (76). Thus. Their activities show very clearly that the presence of animals in the archive is not only textual (83-84). . The apes can express how they feel and also “can explain why” (120).” . Image captions often pose problems. but artifacts . illustrate what was actually practiced” (117).

It is only Drew A.” This scientific language might suggest that we are entering a territory of history under- stood as science and a space of sophisticated reflection on the problem of his- torical explanation (especially causal explanations). After long years of the dominance of interpretive approaches. History as a Science and the System of the Sciences: Phenomenological Investigations (New York: Springer 2015).” and their pasts in terms of “minority histories. treating animals as “others. and historicization means showing that animals (as well as institutions related to animal welfare) change over time (Nance. 30. his- torical explanation is achieved by historicization (of animals). inspired by Erica Fudge. following postcolonial scholars such as Dipesh Chakrabarty and Ashis Nandy. given that certainly one central question historians always want to answer as fully as possible with respect to processes and events in the past is ‘why’?” (4). IV. these concepts appear only in the “Introduction. METHODS. Swanson who uses these concepts in the book when he asks: “After all. historicization) is just another way to express the problem of agency. In recent years. and ideologies of progress.” Nance claims (7).” might still have certain theo- retical advantages. Aviezer Tucker). and so on. In the book. However.” where methodological language (and terms such as historical causation. In this context. factors. cultural stereotypes. in The Historical Animal a call to historicize animals would neutralize radical possibilities that lay in their profitable and enlivening 28. . a more analytical approach to historical reflection and radical interdisciplinarity seems to be welcomed. a classic historicist method is highlighted as the main task of the animal historian.29 Apart from the above-mentioned thought-provoking ideas. Such intrusion of scientific language might be treated as a sign of expectations. APPROACHES. 2010). Nance moves narrative to the level of methodological discourse when she asks: “Are we able to account for animals as factors of causation. such as the “scientification” of history. explanation. what is causation but a historical ecology of actions. The task of the animal historian is to “seek out the activities of nonhumans as factors of historical causation in a necessarily interspecific past.” History and Theory 34. objectivity. AND THEORIES Part III of the book is entitled “The Animal Factor of Historical Causation. 8). which “smuggles” analytical catego- ries used in zoology into history. 2 (May 1995). 29. Daniel Little. and evidence. I have observed a renewal of interest in the problem of historical cognition. I might ask how we can use animal history (as a specific approach to the past that emerged within the European tradition) to free us from history as the discipline that legitimizes various forms of colonial vio- lence. Tortorici introduces the concept of “animal-made-history” (86). see. causal circumstances. the ultimate expression of actor-network?” (Swanson.28 Such statements somehow do not fit into the book’s narrative and in their style might correspond only to Foote and Gunnels’s article on historical zoology. the nation-state. In this context. causal reasoning. “History’s Forgotten Doubles. for example. no. Ashis Nandy. ANIMAL HISTORY 277 (86). Thomas M. New Contributions to the Philosophy of History (Dordrecht: Springer.30 In this context. secular consciousness. 44ff. causal factors. For example. 6. 256). Apart from scholars who in the field of philosophy of history continue to work in the analytical tradition (Paul Roth. Seebohm.

). .” as proposed by Scott A. 256). 123ff. 33. borrowed from Mary Pratt (Imperial Eyes) and developed by James Clifford in the field of anthropology. There are also references to trauma theory that is applied to study interspecies bonding between horses and soldiers (McEwen). as well as to approach animals’ behavior (Michael’s Story as “an enunciation of trauma. perhaps animals should not (always) be historicized. Swanson).”31 Indeed. environmental history. It would be worth analyzing possible relations between a “middle ground” and a concept used by Donna Haraway: “contact zone. however. It enables one to consider the ontology of the past through the lens of Latour’s flat ontology. not elaborated. “Minority Histories.” Nandy. Dipesh Chakrabarty. . 8). such fields of study as animal history (as well as biohistory. reasoning. summarizing Shaw’s arguments. 2000). Indeed. Subaltern Pasts. whereas The Historical Animal proposes a kind of alternative history and shows the animal past as strictly connected to the human past that waits to be transformed into history. 271). 34. It seems that an “anthrozootic city.” Zulueta. to describe spaces of interspe- cies assemblages that uncover various manifestations of “copresence and the shared building of other worlds” and interdependency between species.” 53. 2008). 76). Donna Haraway. who is skeptical of Gyan Prakash and Dipesh Chakrabarty’s critique of history and claims that they propose “powerful pleas for alternative histories. When Species Meet (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.278 EWA DOMAŃSKA ahistoricity (similarly to how it happens with subaltern subjects).34 As The Historical Animal shows. they [subaltern pasts] help us distance ourselves from the imperious instincts of the discipline—the idea that everything can be historicized or that one should always historicize. Thus. and sensing. ANT provides a useful instrument to practice relational epistemology (of history). Actor-network theory has a privileged position in The Historical Animal (Shaw. 112. Swanson treats actor-network theory as inspiration for the development of the idea of “the middle ground” understood as expressions of interspecies relations. Authors also mention that “serious treatment of animal agency . but may well fail to reveal the richness of the past (as saved in histori- cal materials).” Haraway uses the term.33 Nance.” in Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. not for alternatives to history. I would also consider the possibility of studying the animal past in order to create an alternative to history. 71. promotes an ecological approach to history” (Swanson. Swart and Tortorici declare that they use an “ethnographic” approach (Swart. However. might be treated as such a “middle ground”/“contact zone. Here I follow Nandy. Tortorici. Milterngerber. Perhaps their ahis- toricity helps to reduce certain ways of absolutizing the past powered by history and opens an alternative to history with a different (nonhuman) perception of changes. As Chakrabarty notes: “In calling attention to the limits of historicizing. 32. and pushes history beyond modernist (and even post- modernist) settlement in the direction of posthumanism. “History’s Forgotten Doubles. .32 Historians of animals are very eclectic in terms of theories and approaches because most important for the development of the field are ideas and research created and conducted outside the discipline of history (Nance.” Miltenberger presents it as an analytical concept “to see the urban environment as a place of encounter between different forms of life as well as among people” (Miltenberger. These declarations are. For example. historians are aware that instrumental projections of theory onto historical material may prove the theory. writes that ANT is “a tool that can be a basic item in the animal historian’s methodological kit” and describes it as pow- erful in “declining to privilege human agency over nonhuman agencies” (12). and neurohistory) present a significant 31.

the humanities. http:// csalateral. . is a significant shift away from the meaning of the traditional humanities. Lateral: Journal of the Cultural Studies Association 5. 36. Cf. feminism. 1 (2016). then. which advocates “historical zoology” as “a multidisciplinary methodological approach” (218). also Interdisciplinarity: Reconfigurations of the Social and Natural Sciences. in the most visible way. and the natural sciences. no. the social sciences. Special Issue: “Responding to the Challenges of our Unstable Earth (RESCUE).36 As she claims. Nance calls it a “radical interdisciplinarity” (3). A good example is “cultural primatology” or “social zooarchaeology. 224- 225]) and enables the explanation of animal acts and a different way to interpret historical sources. and the new historicism that somehow unified interdisciplinarity and critique. ANIMAL HISTORY 279 barrier to the conceptions proposed by the life sciences and natural sciences.” Richie Nimmo.” Stanley Fish.” Society & Animals 20 (2012). Stanley Fish was referring to deconstruction. the social sciences. this approach might be too limited at present. Kyla Wazana Tompkins claims that “The attention to the interface between the human and the nonhu- man as it yields to and undoes human sensory organization. They provide insights into patterns of animal behavior. Stephanie Zehnle (“Of Leopards and Lesser Animals: Trials and Tribulations of the ‘Human-Leopard Murders’ in Colonial Africa”) uses “contemporary ethological studies methodology” in order to approach colonial accounts of human-leopard murders in new ways (223). queer.” Profession 89 (1989). Now “radical interdisciplinarity” means connecting humanities. there are calls for an alliance among art. whose anti-. 2013). ed. 37. It is interesting to observe how the idea of “radical interdisciplinarity” is evolving. Nance. and Knowledge: Symmetrical Reflections beyond the Great Divide. 38. the radi- cal version of neopragmatism. “Being Interdisciplinary Is so Very Hard to Do. suggests that New Materialist thinking must necessarily engage radical interdisciplinarity. However. Kyla Wazana Tompkins. radical interdisciplinarity is manifested in Foote and Gunnels’s article.38 Foote and Gunnels explain how zoology and biological sciences enable us to look 35. Social Zooarchaeology: Humans and Animals in Prehistory (Cambridge. Swart. ethology informs how leopards relate to their territories (“female leopards are philopatric animals that spend their lives close to where they were born and raised” [Zehnle. However. 1995).org/wp/issue/5-1/forum-alt-humanities-new-materialist-philosophy-tompkins/ (accessed July 12. Foote and Gunnels. inter-. for example. it is worth noticing that. this in turn brings us back to the provocations of left. “new materialism” calls for connecting both understandings. When he used this term in 1989. Many of the authors—Cincinnati. 173-192. In this situation. 2016. “Animal Cultures. understood as “a group of sciences whose object of research is the human as a social being. For example. scientists’ “work provides us with new questions and possible explanations for animal life that we [historians] can use to reconsider historical sources in new ways” (7). Marxism. Andrew Barry and Georgina Born (London and New York: Routledge. it is necessary to redefine the status and objectives of the humanities (and its specific fields). and critical race theory. What we are facing. Jørgensen. Such cooperation involving very different methodolo- gies and theories is fruitful and needed. and trans-disciplinary energies continue to retain a link with the political movements that produced them.35 In order to meet the challenge of constructing inclusive and complementary knowledge of the past. UK: Cambridge University Press. 2012). 15-22.37 However. Zehnle. “On the Limits and Promise of New Materialist Philosophy” (Forum: Emergent Critical Analytics for Alternative Humanities). The merger is also proceeding from the direction of the sciences toward the humanities and social sciences. For example. Subjectivity. Thus. The successful construction of such integrated knowledge could lead to the emergence of the “third culture” that John Brockman writes of: The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution (New York: Simon & Schuster. Nerissa Russell. feminist. and Zulueta—stress the necessity of cooperation between natural scientists and social scientists (including historians).” There is also a move away from the usual opposition of the humanities and the natural sci- ences and the interpretive and experimental sciences.” ed. Environmental Science & Policy 28 (April 2013). Jill Jäger. and the natural sciences and is considered as a necessary condition of innovative research.

215. engagement with zoological science is “an important tool for animal historians seeking to provide a richer and more multi-layered understanding of past animal lives” (220). Such cooperation is profitable for both “cultures. As the authors claim. Erica Fudge provides a useful overview of the field in “What Was It Like to Be a Cow?: History and Animal Studies. Foote and Gunnels explain that interspecific aggression occurs when “an individual of one species acts antagonistically toward an individual of a second species. and needs knowledge provided by humanists and social scientists in order to “enhance zoological understanding” of this phenomenon (220). “[a]nimals are everywhere. They “have played critical roles in human history” (Foote and Gunnels. . enabling us to comprehend animal lives in “more nuanced ways” (205. 1-12. 11). PRINCIPLES.280 EWA DOMAŃSKA at the problem of violence from a different perspective. V. ed. and some of them (apes) are able to communicate their “stories. See also David Gary Shaw. and refugia (places “beyond easy reach of human predators”). . such as food or nesting sites. “A Way with Animals. 6). . 2015).” On the one hand. animal history “potentially opens a new window into core zoological questions” (220). 209. 5). I was able to identify the following assumptions. Interspecific aggression can occur in cases where individuals use the aggression to mitigate competition for a shared resource. whether by direct action. 219). Linda Kalof (New York: Oxford University Press. or their simple materiality” (Nance. Anthropocentric history is narrowly reductive and presents a distorted image of the past by setting forth an ideology of speciesism and human exceptional- ism. What is more. TASKS) The Historical Animal wishes to claim that animals not only have histories and play a crucial part in the historical development of human cultures but can also be said to be an active part of human history.39 The natural sciences enrich the historical vocabulary with concepts such as intraspecific interactions. 203) and “have shaped our collective past.41 The traditional view is that history is distinctively 39. in terms of “interspecific aggression” (207). and tasks of writing animal history:40 1.” The authors bring different conceptions of history to bear in the investigation of these topics and utilize different methodologies and theoretical apparatuses in defense of their claims. and even . no. and there has never been any purely human moment in world history” (Nance. animals (in the case of mammals with developed neural systems) also have their own perception of past events. 40. Nance asks: “As a central task of Animal History can we recognize and document the degree to which all history is inherently interspecific. 2. 4 (December 2013).” History and Theory 52. On the other hand. The past was always multispecies and interspecific. For example. phonotypic plasticity (learning to recognize and resist dangers). and that to write others out is a methodological.” in The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies. a zoologi- cal concept such as “first contact” is poorly conceptualized in this discipline. unique perception of a given context. main principles. Other cases of interspecific aggression occur as a byproduct of intra- specific competition. CONCLUSIONS: ANIMAL HISTORY AS A SUBFIELD OF HISTORY (ASSUMPTIONS. 41. where aggressive animals show agonistic displays in response to similar cues used by both species” (207). Excluding nonhuman animals from the past creates “a false sense of human autonomy” (Nance. Through an analysis of the book.

and animals do not have a history and do not live historically. 4. Linda Kalof and Georgina Montgomery (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. 6. therefore “only some aspects of the nonhuman past are available to historians” (Nance. On the necessity of conceptualizing historical sources.” in Making Animal Meaning. 42. 70). 8). newspaper articles. The basic task of writing animal history is to document animal lives (Nance. without. history “privileges human language and chronology over smells. Important status in historical research is given to material artifacts. 11). Writing animal history is difficult because animals are not writing their own history. Historians have also noticed that. Animals should be treated as agentive subjects and autonomous individuals (Cox. as a practice. Thus. Research on animals also reveals new kinds of histori- cal sources: for example. decentering our narratives (Swanson. “Animal Writes: Historiography. 8) and to show “the role of nonhumans in historical processes and events” (Nance. 254-255). such as “a salamander-centered history” (Swanson. 215-216) or animal calls (Swart. Disciplinarity. Nance. 76). 70). there is a need to research “possibilities of writing animal-sensitive history” (Swart. “Animals do have their own archives. 11). 256). 6). animals’ bodies as valuable written records (Foote and Gunnels. 3-16. ed. An important task of animal history is to make ani- mals real and to historicize them. however. manuals. scholars also suggest the possibility of approaching the past from the animal’s point of view and the use of testimonies created by animals. and so on) are still important. Thus. 56. 101-102). Animal historians are seeking ways “to center nonhuman animals in historical narratives of the past” (Tortorici. choice?” (Nance. which means showing how they change over time and adapt to a changing environment (Nance. Creating non- anthropocentric archives and looking for unconventional and new historical sources and innovative ways of approaching them is crucial for historians of animals. 15). In the case of apes. This move is made possible by treating animals as agents.42 Standard historical sources (documents. 5. ANIMAL HISTORY 281 human. such as. see Etienne Benson. 223. images. one of the typical and constantly recurring research questions is: what is the animal’s place in history? (Pooley-Ebert. . animal history has been lost. Zehnle. veterinary objects (Cox. 2011). “[N]onhuman ani- mals are the last ones still waiting for their history to be written. 101.” argues Nance (11). memoirs. 70-71). The ability to create animal first- person accounts (Zulueta) challenges us to rethink “what constitutes historical evidence and personal testimony” (Nance.” writes Nance (16). but historians often need the help of scientists to be able to detect traces previously unnoticed because of the limited hermeneutic methods they use to interpret these materials. 56). 4. 149). 3. and the Animal Trace. 5). Animal history questions “human supremacist or human exceptionalist ways of thinking and acting grounded in the (often subconscious) insistence that human form and sentience are an ideal against which all other beings should be contrasted. although they do not know it. In human-centered history. for example. physical sensations and emotions conveyed in some other prioritized or storytelling order” (Nance. 11) or what constitutes the “first- political. A typical Western under- standing of animals as passive and static ahistorical beings has to be abandoned. These basic assumptions have governed historical reflection for a long time and are deemed not only false but also morally wrong (Swart. It also makes alternate histories possible. Swart. and inevitably subjected because inherently inferior to humankind” (Nance.

historians were still not prepared to make more daring incursions into the territory of the study of the natural sciences and thus overcome the anthropocentric paradigm. and trauma theory need to be approached critically and not instrumentally. ecology. Cf.43 animal-sensitive history. distributed agency. and vice-versa” (86). animal-made history. 44. approaches. and limit the richness of source materials by allow- ing us to see only what the theory highlights. 1 (1996). and theo- ries are necessary to advance research in animal history. This might lead to radical reconfiguration of the field. From this perspective. See also Fudge. “[W]e recognize that non-human animals directly influence human modes of archiving and remember- ing. new research methods. special issue: “Zooarchaeology: New Approaches and Theory. and using concepts from the natural sciences (interspecific aggression. Jonathan Burt. no. refugia) are critical to the development of the field. A similar merger with zoology can be seen in anthropology and archaeology. 3 (2013). that might lead to abandoning such concepts and looking for new ones. new analytical concepts (anthrozootic city. Radical interdisciplinarity. if neces- sary. “What’s in a Name? Anthrozoology. 11ff. Rossini (Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers. 2009). and bioacoustics become natural allies that complement and supplement research undertaken by humanists and social scientists. Theories such as actor-network theory. M. for example.” in Animal Encounters. “Introduction: The Dangers of Anthropocentrism. The Archaeology of Animals (London: Routladge. 1984).” World Archaeology 28. . no. no. evolutionary theory. “Invisible Histories: Primate Bodies and the Rise of Posthumanism in the Twentieth Century. Building new approaches (historical zoology. veterinary medicine. it seems that 43. ethology. the archive “emerges as a complex biopolitical and necropoliti- cal space that challenges us to be fully conscious of how animal life supports and complicates the archive stories we tell” (Tortorici. 159-170. ed. middle ground). animals’ first-person testimony). 145-166. Cf. also Samantha Hurn. 6. Robert Delort had already presented this postulate in Les Animaux ont une histoire (Paris: Seuil. Tortorici points out that the archive might be seen as an animal cemetery. Animal psychology.282 EWA DOMAŃSKA person”? Historians who are sensitive to any possible trace of the presence of animals in the archive would not limit themselves to their mentions in a text. “Farmyard Choreographies in Early Modern England. 669-685.” Anthropology Today 26. 2002). a highly theoretically conscious and innovative historian (often cited in the volume). At that time. 3 (June 2010). Iman Jackson Zakiyyah. Animal Studies or Something Else? A Comment on Caplan.” Feminist Studies 39. Human–Animal Studies.” in Perceiving Animals: Humans and Beasts in Early Modern English Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois Press. They might open as well as reduce interpretive possibilities. Equally important is the constant reevaluation of the understanding of the main themes and categories of animal history. Simon J. evolutionary biology. ed. 1987).” in Renaissance Posthumanism.44 However. Erica Fudge. “Animal: New Directions in the Theorization of Race and Posthumanism. Both disciplines are interested in the roles of animals in human societies and in the coexistence and coevolution of animals and humans. however. 2016). 86). Joseph Campana and Scott Maisano (New York: Fordham University Press. Erica Fudge. such as. Davis. indicated the importance of debates about “dangers of anthropocentrism” for writing animal history in Perceiving Animals: Humans and Beasts in Early Modern English Culture (2002). even to abandoning history as a specific approach to the past because it is too reductive to grasp the complexity of interspecific relations and the decrease of epistemic authority of the human in (historical) knowledge-building. pheno- typic plasticity. animal agency (and “the animal’s point of view”). Tom Tyler and Manuela S. 27-28.

who in doing so merely appears to be working in the anti-anthropocentric paradigm by responding only to changes in the humanities. ed. What is Posthumanism? (University of Minnesota Press. Erica Fudge. 2010). 124. There is one reference to Donna Haraway’s Primate Visions (1989) in a footnote in Cincinnati’s article on “Historicizing Gorilla Extinction” (329). 123. Third. 47. “one can engage in a humanist or a posthumanist practice of a discipline. Even if Swanson uses the term “anthropocentrist historians” to describe traditional historians working on human history (257). or David Gary Shaw (to mention only a few) are right when they stress that studying animals forces scholars to rethink history as a discipline and its very foundations. and even if Tortorici indicates “the anthropocentric nature of historical sources” (97) and Swart complains about an anthropocentric perspective that privileges sight over our other senses (69). whose works are relevant for writing animal history—also are not pres- ent. plants.” transl. The introduction (or. Éric Baratay. ANIMAL HISTORY 283 the term “non-anthropocentric history” still sticks in historians’ throats. As Cary Wolfe stresses. re-introduction in a new context) of research on animals. is it insufficiently so? Historians like Éric Baratay. zoology. yet “internal disciplinarity may remain humanist through and through.45 I come to wonder if (critical) posthumanism is too radical for historians.” states Nance in the “Introduction” (3). and that fact is crucial to what a discipline can contribute to the field of animal studies” (or indeed to a new paradigm in general).” First. ethology. and that progressive histori- ans are already trying to go even further. Baratay lists several major problems that are constantly blocking animal history and reducing it to the “human history of animals. “Building an Animal History.” Wolfe. scholars would have to go beyond sociocultural history and the problem of representation that has occupied them for a long time. in French Thinking about Animals. Second. Cary Wolfe. plants. does not appear either. Wolfe gives the example of a historian describing the cruel fate of horses on World War I battlefields. . and things is in itself insufficient. Louisa Mackenzie and Stephanie Posthumus (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. which serves as the main agenda of criticism of anthropo- centrism and promotes animal as well as human–animal studies.47 What is crucial is the formation of a theoretical interpretive framework that can inspire different research questions and offer 45. In The Historical Animal the problem is addressed in a very subtle way: “Animal History invites us to ask unconventional questions about the interspecific past in non-anthropocentric ways. as the contributors to The Historical Animal know. the term anthropocentrism is not included in the book’s index. or (paradoxically). 3-6. the classic definition of history as formulated by Marc Bloch as “a science of humans in time” has to be changed in order to embrace nonhumans. The main icons of posthumanist debates—Donna Haraway and Cary Wolfe. or ecological matters. What is Posthumanism?. rather. Stephanie Posthumus. This would mean abandoning the long-standing anthro- pocentric paradigm of historical knowledge. 2015). 46. and animal cogni- tive psychology.46 The Historical Animal shows clearly that such major reconfigurations of the disci- pline of history are appearing in historical practice. It is also surprising that posthumanism. historians would have to embrace such natural sciences as ecology. It is not a question of introducing new fields of interest regarding animals.

zoology) it exemplifies an ongoing merger among the humanities. Animals may not have a human-like perception of history. however.51 Scientific journals. India.”49 However. ed.284 EWA DOMAŃSKA alternative interpretations. 181-188. 2012). no. Kenneth J. Leising. “Introduction: Science and Pseudoscience” (1973). historians might often do so not because they want to save anthropocentric humanism but because they do not have the proper theoretical frame. 51. theories are fabricated only in order to accommodate known facts. .” History and Theory 52. but also question one of the basic assumptions of the discipline: not only the epistemic authority of history for building knowledge of the past. “Time-Space Learning in Homing Pigeons (Columba livia): Orientation to an Artificial Light Source. They try to develop and enrich the field by using methods and instruments derived from sensory history. “Causal Reasoning in Rats. in The Methodology of the Scientific Research Programmes. I am referring here to Imre Lakatos. Edward J. 2006). vol. and Verner P. such a position could be described as “humanist posthumanism. VT: Ashgate. However. Mahesh Rangarajan. 2 (April 2007). Bingman. 5-6. Indeed. 1978). we can learn much from studies about animal cognition. Petruso. Perception of generational change and the role of “elders” in animal communities (are they necessary for adapta- tion and survival?) might become an important subject of human–animal history.” Animal Cognition 10. ed. but also the human epis- temic authority for creating such knowledge. To be sure. the most progressive proposals are coming from scholars (including historians) who advocate radical interdisciplin- arity. Blaisdell. 4 (2013). no. 52. metalanguage. “Animals with Rich Histories: The Case of the Lions of Gir Forest. UK: Cambridge University Press. 5763 (February 17. Philosophical Papers. 1 (Cambridge. while at the same time demanding the construction of new concepts and theories in a situation where existing theory “lags behind the facts. evolutionary biology. theory leads to the discovery of hitherto unknown novel facts. such as animal urban history. 50. They are not interested only in merging history with the sciences. such as Animal Cognition and Science. and Michael R. who wrote that “where theory lags behind the facts. What is Posthumanism? 124. we are dealing with miserable degenerating research programmes. Animal Cities: Beastly Urban Histories. no. social sciences. Peter J.50 With its attempts to connect various fields of the natural sciences (ethology. and tools to do it otherwise. Aaron P. ethnography. Atkins (Burlington. [I]n a progressive research programme. Following Wolfe. Wolfe. . it already has its own subfields. In degenerating pro- grammes. Kosuke Sawa. 1020-1022. life sciences. Thomas Fuchs. and sociology as well as work in new material culture studies and science and technology studies. . publish articles on animals’ perception of time and their ability to reason causally.” and incommensurability emerges between practice and the theories attempting to describe it. and natural sciences. In fact. Some historians prefer to remain safe in familiar surroundings and are satisfied with including animals in history and researching various forms of animal agency and different manifestations of human–animal encounter.48 The majority of authors in The Historical Animal still practice (animal) history in a humanist way. 49. Gujarat. . 109-127. but they do perceive sequences of changes. Waldmann.52 This topic might become of interest for historians. in recent decades animal history has gone from being a marginal and exotic topic to one of the major and the most progressive fields within the historical profession.” Imre Lakatos. Should we rethink the idea of generation in history and take into account how 48.” Science 311. John Worrall and Gregory Currie.

stops without thinking. 2006). namely. . For although the index was discovered as playing an essential role within cognition. but so also a browsing deer. . T. When stressing the importance of various senses. When they were adapted in the field of the humani- ties and social sciences they helped to challenge a dualistic approach in which humans are seen as separated from the natural world and to criticize human exceptionalism. In this way she opens up a space for a kind of comparative zoological knowledge of the past. . And that suggests a way in which the human mind may be located within nature. This is also why a growing interest in biosemiotics and indexical signs might be observed among humanists and social scientists. . Dario Martinelli. In this context. 11). as a development of more primitive semiotic capacities. Ideas (Dordrecht. Paths. which makes it promising and future-oriented. while commenting on the implications of Charles Sanders Peirce’s idea of indexical signs. New York: Springer. 2010). T. 222-223. “The Development of Peirce’s Theory of Signs. L. seeing a stop sign.53 Sandra A. follows without thinking the spoor of its quarry. there is a growing interest in going beyond lan- guage. Cheryl Misa (Cambridge. ed. L. The second implication of the discovery of indices is that it compels us to recognize a relation of sign to object that is distinct from signification. and the ways that nonhumans perceive 53. UK: Cambridge University Press. raises its head to look. in a new context) on the evolu- tionary advantages and disadvantages of historical knowledge-building? Can we analyze historiographical works in terms of the adaptive benefit that they might have? Does history have survival value? The ultimate challenge of animal history. This approach is promoted by such fields as zoosemiotics. Short. This would require giving up the human epistemic authority of “writing” about the past and opening the field up to various ways of nonverbal communication that would not privilege human language (and language as a privileged way of communication). in nonsymbolic representations. Short. she also intuits a necessity to consider various ways of nonlinguistic communication that connect human and nonhuman animals. 54.” but to consider (and possibly to contribute to advancing) interspecies forms of com- munication that would allow nonhuman beings to report past events (Nance.54 These ideas have recently been used in the discussion about the “use and abuse” of anthropocentrism. nor even presenting history from “the animal’s point of view. A Critical Companion to Zoosemiotics: People. it is by its nature—as being causal or otherwise nonconceptual—not limited to cognition. noticed that his approach to semiotics: [w]as extended beyond the study of thought and language. But if semiotics’ pur- view is extended to nonconceptual interpretants.” in The Cambridge Companion to Peirce. but so also a bloodhound. Semiotics thereby became a study not only of natural signs but also of natural processes of interpre- tation. startled by a noise. is not writing animals into history and treating them as agential beings (which has been the main task in the early stage of the field’s develop- ment). ANIMAL HISTORY 285 animals perceive generational bonds? Can research into animals’ perception of change enable the development of nonhistorical approaches to the past? Should this research inspire us to reflect (again. then why not to nonhuman interpreters? A person poked turns to look. however. the seasoned driver. nose to ground. Swart is right when stressing the role of bioacous- tics studies that research various kinds of calls in understanding animals’ social life (70).

The article has aroused great interest because it undermines the human monopoly over epistemic authority and thus shows the potential for multispecies authorship and the construc- tion of transspecies knowledge. H-Net Reviews. but it is far from such for the contributors to The Historical Animal and for primatologists such as Sue Savage-Rumbaugh. Kohn is advocating transspecies attempts at communication that are taking place in the multispecies world of semiosis. Susan Savage-Rumbaugh. dogs.” Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 10. ed.. Plants as Persons: A Philosophical Botany (Albany: State University of New York Press. “Welfare of Apes in Captive Environments: Comments On. [and] helps to maintain human notions of superiority over the plant kingdom in order that plants may be dominated. Bradshaw. not only for thinking about coexistence with animals in the future. 7-19. but also for creating a multispecies knowledge of the past. the chimpanzees (Kanzi Wamba. H-Environment. Scholars working on plants. a Specific Group of Apes.h-net. See also on this subject Gay A.55 Indexical signs attract attention since there are typical forms of animal communication (for example. 15-30. pigs. and Nyota Wamba. no.” claim that “zoocentrism is a method of achieving the exclusion of plants from relationships of moral consideration . Kanzi Wamba.org/reviews/showrev. 2011). Humans. Panbanisha Wamba. Beastly Natures: Animals. but they did communicate with the researcher (Sue Savage-Rumbaugh) and responded to questions concerning their own needs. Let us consider. sheep. and orcas). odors or alarm calls indicate the presence of a predator). . leopards. November 2011 http://www. 6.” review of Dorothee Brantz. 11. no. It is important. Nigel Rothfels (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. burros. gorillas.57 In the majority of the cases discussed here. who published an article as co-author along with three chimpanzees. 59. Thus the authors might be accused of a zoocentric bias. How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology beyond the Human (Berkeley: University of California Press. 56. . 57. 2016). In her review of Beastly Natures (2010). 2002). 1 (2007). then. the chapters of The Historical Animal deal with domestic and totemic animals—mammals mostly of high intel- ligence and a developed neural system (horses. 1-2 (2010). Sandra S.” in Representing Animals. “Historians and Other Animals.” Configurations 18. “An Ape among Many: Co-Authorship and Trans-Species Epistemic Authority.”56 In light of what I have outlined above. Swart wrote: “This anthology has a subtextual lament that history is written by humans alone. 2013). It should also be noted that co-authorship concerns not only animals but also intelligent machines. Cf. In the widely discussed book by anthropologist Eduardo Kohn. Erica Fudge. 55. Matthew Hall.”58 In order to neutralize this bias. Panbanisha Wamba. Swart. and By. one topic worth discussing for the future sake of history would be animals (various animals—not only mammals) and plants seen in terms of kinship system (based on shared heritage. The history of animals in its future-oriented mode can thus lead to the forma- tion of multispecies knowledge of the past. whether and how we could achieve “interspecies competence” (Fudge’s term59). the following question emerges: can we imagine a knowledge of the past (which I would not limit to history) that would be based on multispecies co-authorship? The question might seem absurd. 58.286 EWA DOMAŃSKA and represent the world. as well as chimpanzees. and co-substantiality and recognition of shared ancestry). cattle. still operating in a mode similar to the New Social History and its “methodology of the oppressed. ed. and Nyota Wamba) did not physically write this article. Peirce’s theory of signs is used to remind us that both humans and nonhumans use signs and that the symbolic is uniquely human.php?id=31301 (accessed July 16. “A Left-Handed Blow: Writing the History of Animals. cohabitation in the same place. such as Matthew Hall. . Of course. and the Study of History.

Poland 60. Tsing. 280.” Ewa Domańska Adam Mickiewicz University. 2015). survival is a collaborative project and “requires cross-species coordination. . ANIMAL HISTORY 287 since as anthropologist Anna Tsing recently noted. we are all “Terrans. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Princeton: Princeton University Press. and from this point of view.”60 Perhaps the future requires not species but rather planetary identification. Poznań. Anna L. 156.

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