Animal Histories: humans and non-humans

Seminar organized by Mary Hilson and the Research programme in History

27.02.2018 | Anja Elley

Dato ons 23 maj
Tid 09:15 17:00
Sted Aarhus University, Nobelparken, Building 1461, meeting room 516

Since its emergence some decades ago, ’animal studies’ has become well-established as an interdisciplinary field of enquiry, bringing together scholars from a range of subjects in the humanities and natural sciences. Animal studies also intersects with other dynamic areas of intellectual activity, including post-humanism, environmental humanities and studies of nature-cultures and the anthropocene.
Historians have also engaged with these debates and animal history is rapidly developing as a distinctive sub-discipline. But many different approaches to animal history are possible. Studying human representations of animals and human interactions with them may offer fresh perspectives on the cultural, social, economic and political histories of human societies.
Non-human animals may be studied as historical actors with their own agency, but this also presents some profound theoretical and methodological challenges.

This seminar, organised under the auspices of the Research Programme in History, aims to take stock of the current state of (non-human) animal history and to consider the possibilities for further developments in this field. The questions that interest us include – but are not limited to – the following:


  • How can we write animal histories in different spatial and temporal contexts?

  • Conversely, what might animal-centred histories add to our knowledge of particular societies and how might such histories even challenge established interpretations?

  • How do we deal with animal agency? How do we overcome the methodological challenges of writing about animals as historical actors?

  • What can we learn from collaboration with other academic disciplines, including the natural sciences?

  • Can – or should – animal history have emancipatory aspirations? What can we learn from other sub-disciplines (labour history, subaltern history, feminist history etc.)?

Programme (preliminary timings)

0915-0930: Welcome, introduction

0930-1030: Taina Syrjämaa (University of Turku), ‘Animal agency and interspecific histories’

1030-1045: Coffee

1045-1145: Anne Katrine Gjerløff, (Natural History Museum of Denmark), ‘When history goes to the                              dogs – perspectives on researching and communicating (nonhuman) animal histories’

1145-1300: Lunch

1300-1430: Jens Krasilnikoff, ‘Animal Husbandry in Greek Antiquity and Ferdinand Braudel: Some                                  Historiographic Observations on Animal Lore and Mediterraneanism’

                    Kasper Lynge Tipsmark, ‘Early Modern Tournaments – Equine Culture and the Role of the                            Horse at the Court of Christian IV 1588-1648’

1430-1500: Coffee

1500-1630: Jeppe Büchert Netterstrøm, ‘The Peasant and the Fox. Reynard the Fox as Breaker of the                            Peace in a Danish Poaching Trial (16th Century)’ 

                    Mary Hilson, ‘“This little piggy went to market…” The history of the pig in Danish modernity:                        food, farming and markets’

1630-1700: Concluding discussion

Seminar, Historie og Klassiske Studier