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On Others’ Emotions, and Ours. A Reflection on Narratives, Categories, and Heuristic Devices

Sabrina Tonutti

Abstract


This article reflects on some epistemological and methodological tenets of cultural anthropology such as the informants’ role in ethnographical research, the relation between collective phenomena and individuals, and that between case studies (individual level) and abstraction (generalization). These tenets will be addressed focusing on the lack of recognition of animals’ individuality and agency in social relations, and on the related humans/animals opposition. With the topic of the emotional lives of animals as a starting point, the essay sets out to reflect on how the narratives we use to interpret and describe them inform our enquiry within an anthropocentric and essentialist view, consequently biasing our understanding of diversity.


Keywords


Emotions; humans; animals; individuals; interspecific relations; ethology; ethnography; anthropology; microhistory; informants; subjectivity.

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2013-002-tonu






Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196


Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo