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'Imagine you are a dog': embodied learning in multispecies research

Fox, Rebekah, Charles, Nickie, Smith, Harriet ORCID: and Miele, Mara ORCID: 2023. 'Imagine you are a dog': embodied learning in multispecies research. Cultural Geographies 30 (3) , pp. 429-452. 10.1177/14744740221102907

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Based upon a multi-species ethnography of companion dog training in the UK, this paper examines the training class as a site of inter-species communication through which dogs and their humans are mutually affected and transformed. We argue that dog training represents an important form of multi-species learning in which participants (human trainer, trainee and canine) shape one another, jointly if asymmetrically, through the performance of particular tasks and challenges. Successful training requires ‘attunement’ to the haptic and sensory experiences of another species and the creation of shared embodied languages through which relationships of trust and reciprocity are formed. Responding to calls for less human-centred methods we examine the possibilities of visual and ethnographic methods for capturing the ‘animal’s point of view’ and explore how deep ethnographic involvement of the researcher’s own body can draw attention to the everyday complexities of embodied inter-species communication. We consider the importance of our own embodied learning in decentring the human in the research process, engendering a corporeal understanding of the multi-sensory nature of inter-species interaction and transforming ourselves in the process. Through the use of ethnographic vignettes, photos and video stills we highlight the importance of body language, sound, touch, smell and training atmospheres in the creation of shared knowledges. In doing so we explore the possibilities of such methods for evoking the affective dimensions of human-canine interactions and attending to the complex and multiple actors and sensibilities which comprise multi-species training relationships.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 1474-4740
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 29 April 2022
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2023 16:22

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