1st Edition

Shared Lives of Humans and Animals Animal Agency in the Global North

Edited By Tuomas Räsänen, Taina Syrjämaa Copyright 2017
    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    228 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.


    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


    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."