The Meaning of Horses: Biosocial Encounters examines some of the engagements or entanglements that link the lived experiences of human and non-human animals. The contributors discuss horse-human relationships in multiple contexts, times and places, highlighting variations in the meaning of horses as well as universals of ‘horsiness’. They consider how horses are unlike other animals, and cover topics such as commodification, identity, communication and performance. This collection emphasises the agency of the horse and a need to move beyond anthropocentric studies, with a theoretical approach that features naturecultures, co-being and biosocial encounters as interactive forms of becoming. Rooted in anthropology and multispecies ethnography, this book introduces new questions and areas for consideration in the field of animals and society.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Meaning of Horses (Dona Lee Davis and Anita Maurstad) PART 1: COMMODIFICATION AND IDENTITY 2. From Horses to Jesus: Saving Souls in the Transition from Pagan to Christian Scandinavia (Kristin Armstrong Oma) 3. Purity, Nobility, Beauty and Performance: Past and Present Construction of Meaning for the Arabian Horse (Christoph Lange) 4. From Servant to Therapist: The Changing Meaning of Horses in Finland (Riitta-Marja Leinonen) 5. From Working to Winning: The Shifting Symbolic Value of Connemara Ponies in the West of Ireland (Claire J. Brown) PART 2: COMMUNICATION AND RELATION 6. Learning to Communicate: The Triad of (Mis)Communication in Horse Riding Lessons (Katherine Dashper) 7. “Follow the Horse”: The Complexities of Collaboration between the Lasso-pole Horse (uurgach mor’) and his Rider among Mongolian Horse Herders (Charlotte Marchina) 8. My Horse is Not My Therapist: Embodied Communicative Practices and the Construction of Meaning in Dressage (Susan M. DiGiacomo) 9. The Human Horse Relationship Challenged by Pregnancy and Motherhood (Nora Schuurman and Maarit Sireni) PART 3: PERFORMANCE, PRACTICE AND PRESENTATION 10. An Introduction to Contemporary Native American Horse Culture: Notes from the Northwest Plateau (Amelia-Roisen Seifert) 11. Escaramuzas Charras: Paradoxes of Performance in a Mexican Women’s Equestrian Sport (Ana C. Ramírez) 12. Horse Things: Objects Practices and Meanings on Display (Anita Maurstad, Dona Lee Davis and Sarah Dean) 13. Commentary: Biosocial Encounters and the Meaning of Horses (Anita Maurstad and Dona Lee Davis)
Dona Lee Davis is Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Dakota, USA.
Anita Maurstad is Professor of Cultural Science at The Arctic University of Norway.