Shared Lives of Humans and Animals: Animal Agency in the Global North, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Shared Lives of Humans and Animals

Animal Agency in the Global North, 1st Edition

Edited by Tuomas Räsänen, Taina Syrjämaa


224 pages

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Paperback: 9780367218867
pub: 2019-01-17
Hardback: 9780415419253
pub: 2017-04-13
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pub: 2017-04-21
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Animals are conscious beings that form their own perspective regarding the lifeworlds in which they exist, and according to which they act in relation to their species and other animals. In recent decades a thorough transformation in societal research has taken place, as many groups that were previously perceived as being passive or subjugated objects have become active subjects. This fundamental reassessment, first promoted by feminist and radical studies, has subsequently been followed by spatial and material turns that have brought non-human agency to the fore. In human–animal relations, despite a power imbalance, animals are not mere objects but act as agents. They shape our material world and our encounters with them influence the way we think about the world and ourselves.

This book focuses on animal agency and interactions between humans and animals. It explores the reciprocity of human–animal relations and the capacity of animals to act and shape human societies. The chapters draw on examples from the Global North to explore how human life in modernity has been and is shaped by the sentience, autonomy, and physicality of various animals, particularly in landscapes where communities and wild animals exist in close proximity. It offers a timely contribution to animal studies, environmental geography, environmental history, and social science and humanities studies of the environment more broadly.

Table of Contents


Tuomas Räsänen and Taina Syrjämaa

Part 1: Co-living Individuals

1. Whose Agency? Humans and Dog Training

Leena Koski and Pia Bäcklund

2. Human and Non-Human Agency in Icelandic Film: Of Horses and Men

Stella Hockenhull

3. Horses as Co-Constructors of Knowledge in Contemporary Finnish Equestrian Culture

Nora Schuurman

4. Living with Horses: Horse Agency in Human-Horse Cohabitation in Nineteenth-Century Finnish Swidden Culture

Riitta-Marja Leinonen

5. Spectacles of Modern Companionship: Men, Dogs and Early Finnish Dog Shows

Taina Syrjämaa

Part 2: Interspecies Communities

6. Case study of a Changing Human-Animal Relationship: Wild Rabbits in Britain since the Nineteenth Century to the Onset of Myxomatosis

John Martin

7. Does a Dead Wild Animal have Agency? The White-Tailed Eagle as a Catalyst for an Ideational Revolution in Finland

Tuomas Räsänen

8. Cosmological Changes: Shifts in Human-Fish Relationships in Alaska’s Bering Strait Region

Julie Raymond-Yakoubian & Vernae Angnaboogok

9. The Baltic Herring as Agents in the Socio-Ecological System in Rymättylä Fisheries

Kirsi Sonck-Rautio

Part 3: Agency Represented

10. Rangifer Tarandus in Textual Service: Positioning Reindeer as an Agent in a Human/Non-human Interactional Context in Three Texts

Jukka Nyyssönen

11. Anthropogenic Food Sources in the Co-Existence of Humans with Liminal Animals in Northern Environments: Representations from National Geographic Magazine

Linda Kalof, Cameron Whitley, Stephen Vrla, and Jessica Bell Rizzolo

12. Changing Narratives of Human - Large Carnivore Encounters in Nineteenth-Century Sweden

Karin Dirke

13. The Wise Salmon that Returned Home

Outi Autti

14. The Co-Living of Humans and Wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

J. Dwight Hines


Harriet Ritvo

About the Editors

Tuomas Räsänen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of European and World History at the University of Turku, Finland. His research interests include animal history, environmental history and history of science. He has published several articles concerning the history of marine sciences and politics in the Baltic Sea area and the history of Finnish environmentalism.

Taina Syrjämaa is Professor of European and World History at the University of Turku, Finland. She has studied urban history, the history of the exhibition medium, the belief in progress, historical spatiality and diffuse agency. She is currently leading the research project "Animal Agency in Human Society."

About the Series

Routledge Human-Animal Studies Series

The last fifteen years or so have seen an extraordinary growth in new and original social science research into human-animal relations. The ‘animal turn’ as some have referred to it is driven by a strong sense that though essential partners in human worlds, animals have long been ignored by a predominantly humanist social science. Although there is a growing literature on human-animal studies, particularly within the humanities but increasingly including geography, sociology, anthropology, the crucial interdisciplinary cross-overs that have so animated animal studies research have not been easily served in the publication strategies of either major journals or book publishers.

The new Routledge Human-Animal Studies Series offers a much-needed forum for original, innovative and cutting edge research and analysis to explore human animal relations across the social sciences and humanities. Titles within the series are empirically and/or theoretically informed and explore a range of dynamic, captivating and highly relevant topics, drawing across the humanities and social sciences in an avowedly interdisciplinary perspective. This series will encourage new theoretical perspectives and highlight ground-breaking research that reflects the dynamism and vibrancy of current animal studies. The series is aimed at upper-level undergraduates, researchers and research students as well as academics and policy-makers across a wide range of social science and humanities disciplines.

To submit a proposal for the series please contact Faye Leerink ( and Henry Buller (

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography