This seminar session will feature a discussion with Radhika Govindrajan about her book Animal Intimacies: Interspecies Relatedness in India’s Central Himalayas (2018), which is an ethnographic study of the interspecies relationships between human and nonhuman animals in the mountain villages of the Central Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in India. Following is the University of Chicago Press’s description of the book:
“What does it mean to live and die in relation to other animals? Animal Intimacies posits this central question alongside the intimate—and intense—moments of care, kinship, violence, politics, indifference, and desire that occur between human and non-human animals. Built on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the mountain villages of India’s Central Himalayas, Radhika Govindrajan’s book explores the number of ways that humans and animals interact to cultivate relationships as interconnected, related beings. Whether it is through the study of the affect and ethics of ritual animal sacrifice, analysis of the right-wing political project of cow-protection, or examination of villagers’ talk about bears who abduct women and have sex with them, Govindrajan illustrates that multispecies relatedness relies on both difference and ineffable affinity between animals. Animal Intimacies breaks substantial new ground in animal studies, and Govindrajan’s detailed portrait of the social, political, and religious life of the region will be of interest to cultural anthropologists and scholars of South Asia as well.”
Radhika Govindrajan is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington. Her research as a cultural anthropologist explores the intersections of multispecies ethnography, environmental anthropology, the anthropology of religion, South Asian Studies, and political anthropology. Her book Animal Intimacies was awarded the 2017 Edward Cameron Dimock, Jr., Prize in the Indian Humanities by the American Institute of Indian Studies and the 2019 Gregory Bateson Prize by the Society for Cultural Anthropology.