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De-centring the human: multi-species research as embodied practice

Charles, Nickie, Fox, Rebekah, Miele, Mara ORCID: and Smith, Harriet ORCID: 2024. De-centring the human: multi-species research as embodied practice. The Sociological Review Magazine 10.1177/00380261241245818

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This article focuses on embodiment and the centrality of embodied methods to multi-species research. We argue that taking the body as our methodological starting point is essential to researching human–animal relations but that bodies engage with and are engaged by the research process in a multiplicity of ways. In this we follow Vinciane Despret’s analysis of the partial affinities between animal scientists’ bodies and the animals they are researching and suggest that sociology’s distinction between sociology of and sociology with the body glosses over the complexities of inter-corporeal encounters. We explore these questions through a discussion of our multi-species ethnography of dog training cultures in the UK, looking at the training of companion dogs, guide dogs and police dogs. We pay attention to the different forms of embodied engagement that these training cultures make possible for us as researchers and reflect on the place of embodied communication in both the training and research relationship. We consider the disembodied training necessitated by the transition to online classes during the Covid pandemic and the consequences of this for our ability to create partial affinities with the dogs and their humans. We argue that the methodological challenges of our times require that we develop methods that attend to our multi-species world, rather than focusing exclusively on the human, and that bring into being a social reality which is less anthropocentric.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: Sage
ISSN: 2754-1371
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 March 2024
Date of Acceptance: 11 March 2024
Last Modified: 21 May 2024 13:13

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