Interspecies Relatedness in India’s Central Himalayas
University of Chicago Press 2018
New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Environmental StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books in SociologyNew Books in South Asian StudiesNew Books Network December 18, 2018 SherAli Tareen
In what is sure to become a classic, Radhika Govindrajan’s Animal Intimacies: Interspecies Relatedness in India’s Central Himalayas (University of Chicago Press, 2018) mobilizes the thematic of “interspecies relatedness” to explore a variety of human/non-human animal encounters in contemporary India. Animal Intimacies is a path paving work that combines theoretical innovation and playfulness, ethnographic depth, and profound attunement to capturing the aspirations and tragedies of everyday life through the art of narrative. By exploring complex modes of relatedness that bind humans with non-human animals ranging from cows, goats, pigs, and bears, in such varied conceptual and political arenas as animal sacrifice, animal protection, the law, and sexuality and queer desire, this book brings into view a vision of love and intimacy that exceeds and subverts the colonizing grammar of often assumed hierarchies like human/animal, state/citizen, and love/violence. Focused on the state of Uttarakhand, Animal Intimacies mobilizes the theme of interspecies relatedness, with much aesthetic poise, to both uncover and bring into question the operation and cooperation of anthropomorphism, the insidious fantasies of modern state sovereignty, and the enduring violence of patriarchy. In addition to its astonishing erudition, Animal Intimacies is also written with breathtaking clarity and lyrical panache. It will also be a delight to teach in undergraduate and graduate seminars on modern South Asia, theories and methods in anthropology and Religious Studies, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Animal Studies.