Synopses & Reviews
"What is an Animal?" presents a unique interdisciplinary challenge to assumptions about animals and animality which are deeply embedded in our own ways of thought. The ten closely interconnected essays raise a host of issues and debates of vital contemporary concern in archaeology and anthropology.
Definitions of the animal, whether "folk" or "scientific," whether inclusive or exclusive of humanity, reveal much about the preconceptions of those who make them. Representing such diverse disciplines as social and cultural anthropology, archaeology, biology, psychology and semiotics, the contributors to this volume are all concerned with the delineation of boundaries: between humans and non-human animals, between animals and other life forms, and between the animate and inanimate. By isolating what is peculiarly Western in the scientific conception of the animal, and by unpacking the multiple meanings of the term in popular discourse, the book opens the way to a better comprehension ofour attitudes towards animals, thereby broadening our understanding of what it means to be human.
This book offers a unique interdisciplinary challenge to assumptions about animals and animality deeply embedded in our own ways of thought, and at the same time exposes highly sensitive and largely unexplored aspects of the understanding of our common humanity.