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Natasha Fijn, As we grapple with climate change and myriad ecological tors to this special issue show how the market-oriented com- crises, conceptual tools from other disciplines offer opportu- modification of domestic animals can undermine established Catie Gressier & nities for new analytical frameworks. In this issue, we bring local multispecies communities. We also touch on histories Muhammad A. a multispecies anthropological approach into dialogue with of destruction for commercial gain, with the encroachment Kavesh biological understandings of the relationships involved in of more intensive agricultural production, and the detri- Natasha Fijn is an Australian Research Council future domestication. We examine mutualism as a series of inter- ments of such practices to local sociocultural and ecological fellow and a director of the species social interactions that, despite some costs, benefit communities. Mongolia Institute within each partner species on balance. Across our fieldsites, herders and small landholders the College of Asia and the are pushing back on this trajectory, calling for respect for Pacific at the Australian *** National University. Our microbiome is an excellent example of how countless the agency, subjectivity and behavioural needs of their Catie Gressier is a research species collaborate in complex interspecies relationships. animals. These are necessary components in the mamma- fellow at the School of We have only recently discovered how crucial this is to our lian interspecies relations of reciprocity, coexistence and Agriculture and Environment, University of Western health and well-being. Other forms of mutualism humans interdependence. Australia. engage in tend to occur in the domestic sphere (or domus), Our contributors highlight diverse forms of engagement Muhammad A. Kavesh is which extends to the surrounding environment. with herd animals, from Fijn’s exploration of ancient forms an Australian Research Council’s discovery early There is an ongoing debate in the multispecies litera- of mobile pastoralism in Mongolia to the transhumance career research award fellow ture regarding relations between people and domesticates. illustrated by Czerny in Croatia’s upper pastures. Broader (DECRA) at the College of What is the nature of these relations? To what extent are cosmological understandings of mutualism are evident Asia and Pacific, Australian humans dominating, controlling and harming partner spe- in Doron’s observation of the importance of Indigenous National University. The authors may be contacted cies? Can these relations ever be advantageous to all parties? breeds as sacrificial chickens. While intensive produc- via: Natasha.Fijn@anu. Industrialized agriculture, scientific awareness of sentience tion systems disrupt long histories of mutualism within edu.au. in mammals and the growth of the animal justice movement the domestication nexus, Gressier and Kavesh suggest that have all contributed to these lines of enquiry. affective interspecies ties, and labour embedded within an The idea of this special issue emerged from the Royal In addressing these questions, the divergent timescales ethic of reciprocity, provide a counterpoint to more exploit- Anthropological Institute of zoology and anthropology offer distinct insights into ative models. conference, Anthropology and mutualism. Instead of the extended evolutionary lens of the Conservation, held between *** 25-29 October 2021.” biological sciences, contributors within this issue examine The transformation of human interactions with domestic mutuality embedded in local communities and their par- species has made our existence precarious, jeopardizing ticular physical and sociocultural landscapes. Participant biological and sociocultural diversity. The multispecies observation involves more immediate temporal scales, ethnographic accounts in this special issue involve hybrid Open access publishing facilitated by the Australian allowing for consideration of the ethical and moral implica- interspecies communities, i.e. diverse kinds of mutual co- National University, as part of tions emerging from interspecies relations. existence with animals. These include humans offering the Wiley-Australian National alternative and more promising models of more-than- *** University agreement via Based on our multispecies ethnographic fieldwork in human engagement as we grapple with the challenges of the the Council of Australian University Librarians. Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Croatia and Australia, contribu- Anthropocene. Bleached broilers and divine fowls The ritual economy of chickens in a South Indian city Poultry products – eggs and meat – are considered the main- Maan Barua and colleagues (2020), the metabolic can illu- Assa Doron Assa Doron is Professor of stay of what are often called ‘non-veg’ diets across India. In minate other-than-human relations and pathways devised to Anthropology and South Asia step with the rest of the world, India’s demand for poultry is alter nature, ‘brought about through the intensification of at the College of Asia & the soaring. ‘We are living on the planet of the chickens,’ write economic production’, and transformation of materialities, Pacific, Australian National University. His email is Assa. researchers from the University of Leicester. ‘The broiler bodies and labour relations in the service of capital accu- Doron@anu.edu.au. (meat) chicken now outweighs all wild birds put together by mulation (see also Wadiwel 2018). I maintain that India’s three to one’ (Bennett et al. 2018). The planetary dominance fowls emerge as sites of the ‘metabolic’, where bio-physical of the humble chicken has been fuelled by industrial-scale processes are intimately connected to parasitic or mutualist poultry production and is turbocharged by antibiotics. material and symbolic relations. I am grateful to my research ‘Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States In India, the violence of factory farming has also meant assistants Maya Sravannthi and more than half of those sold around the world are used in that ‘mutualism’ – defined here largely as a practice of recip- and Hymavathi Paladugu for animals, not in humans,’ writes Maryn McKenna (2017: 26). rocal benefits amongst species – is being transformed. The their valuable assistance and suggestions at various stages. changing nature of avian biology in its commodified form is I also want to thank three The rise of the planet of the chickens reconfiguring consumer and ritual practices, with implica- anonymous reviewers and The commoditization of poultry is intrinsically tied to our tions for class and caste relations. In what follows, I propose the editors of this issue for way of life under modern capitalism: from colonial-capi- that the rise of chickens to prominence in India might be best their insightful comments. An Australian Research Council talist modes of domination and extraction to the materials, understood concerning metabolic transformations and toxic Discovery Project funds this relations and technologies that have significantly altered entanglements. These are inseparable from broader consid- research. (DP190100823). the birds’ microbial metabolism to ensure efficiency and erations about nature, human/nonhuman bodies and capital Open access publishing profitability (Coles 2022). The notion of the ‘metabolic’ relations. The essay begins by charting the development and facilitated by Australian National University, as part of has drawn the attention of scholars who have sought to consequences of the poultry industry globally and in India. the Wiley-Australian National go beyond the cellular and bodily level and link economic It proceeds to discuss the different types of chicken and their University agreement via transformations to wider multispecies ecologies operating ritual significance across human-animal relations as shifting the Council of Australian University Librarians. within capitalism and its biopolitical underpinnings. For points between different frames of value that straddle the ANTHROPOLOGY TODAY VOL 39 NO 1, FEBRUARY 2023 3
Anthropology Today – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 2023
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