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Being Alongside: Rethinking Relations amongst Different Kinds

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JournalTheory, Culture and Society
DatePublished - Dec 2013
Issue number7-8
Volume30
Number of pages28
Pages (from-to)77-104
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper broadens out existing challenges to the divisions between the human and the animal that keep humans distinct, and apart, from other animals. Much attention to date has focused on how the Euro-American individuation of the human subject intensifies the asymmetries inculcated by these divisions. This paper rehearses some of this literature but goes on to attend to how these divisions undercut understandings of sociality and limit social organization to interaction between persons. Drawing together debates around the human/animal relation, the paper juxtaposes different perspectives of nature-cultures to bring 'worlds' of relations into view. Specifically, I distinguish here between the state of 'being alongside' and the process of 'being-with'. Ranging from approaches that try to settle ideas of difference through appeals to 'ethical health', through to work on identity that 'unconceals' a wealth of connection, this distinction will help to keep apart those situated moments of relations, where the constituent parts are left more provisional and contingent, from more sought-out relationships, where a sense of togetherness purposefully dominates the conjoining of activities. Contrasting hybridity as a totalizing form of 'being-with', with alongsideness, as a form of intermittent and partial connection, the analysis eschews the obfuscation of difference entrenched in contemporary emphasis on connectivity. Proposing instead the importance of creatures as 'division preserving', the paper theorizes ways to sustain regard for division as well as connection as key to understanding the arts of dwelling amidst different kinds.

    Research areas

  • animals, being-in-the-world, Haraway, humankind, partial connection, sociality, Strathern

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