9 Pages

In it together: an introduction to human- animal studies

ByGarry Marvin, Susan McHugh

Who or what is human? Animal? And when these terms are coupled with a hyphen, how does that shift the grounds of studying? In human-animal studies the research and intellectual focus is on how animals fi gure and are confi gured in human worlds, but these worlds are formed through the relationships that humans share with animals. Why might studying this human-animal world be worth academic attention? Simply put, it is because animals – although not all, and not all equally – are essential in and for human societies. Human worlds are built upon animal lives and deaths, conceptually as well as physically. It is diffi cult to imagine how we could mark ourselves out as human without other animals, for we have become human alongside other animals. But this is actually more ‘among’ than ‘alongside’ – with its sense of humans and animals living parallel but separate lives – for, from the beginning, these were lives that have always been and remain profoundly intertwined.