The Body of Animals

The Body of Animals

Freemartin Twins.jpeg

Freemartin Twins, by K Toda (1916).

Frank Rottray Lillie's model of the freemartin, by K. Toda (1916). MBLWHOI Library Rare Book Collection.

Animals have been central to humans in their attempts to understand their world and in revealing the secrets of nature. The theme "The Body of Animals" explores the multiplicity of ways and contexts in which historical actors used and studied animals and the essence of animality. It investigates how animals were rendered to signify human socialities, just as much as the natural world, and how humans of the past interacted with animals within their cosmologies. Participants in the various projects within the working group search for the meaning in pragmatic, everyday practices of using, reproducing, and caring for animals and their bodily parts, but also in fearing, avoiding, and moving around them. They ask whether knowing animals must equate the practices of “doing science,” and challenge the prominent frameworks of natural history and the laboratory as an endpoint. In order to the sketch the contours of the human and that of nature, furthermore, the group projects aim to understand what has historically been made to count as an animal, and explore the methodological possibilities for studying animals in history.