Posted by Ben Oppenheimer '14
My multispecies ethnography centers on the relationship between the mounted human riding horseback and the horse whose back is mounted by a human, observed in Saratoga Springs, New York at Skidmore College. To fully grasp the Skidmore College experience, I analyzed human-horse relations, a key component to the student life and culture. My ethnography examines human-horse relations and the influence the horse has on the college community.
Anthropocentrism regards human as the central fact of the universe, to which all surrounding facts have reference. Multispecies ethnographies aim to avoid this notion by focusing on human interaction with other living organisms. The social studies of human-animal relationship must not permit anthropocentric observation to overlook the presence of interspecies relationships, the way in which two things are connected.
This mode of anthropological research is not confined only to the study of humans but also inclusive of our relationships and interactions with other living beings. Saratoga Springs is a hub for human-horse relations. Based on ethnographic research, this project draws on data from interviews, observations, ethnography, and participant observation. The findings demonstrate that interaction between humans and animals has the potential to form groups, relationships, codes of conduct, and other structures that construct and organize human behavior within a community. This has proven to be the case with human-horse relations in Saratoga Springs, New York.
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