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Cornell University    
  Feb 25, 2018
Courses of Study 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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ANTHR 6230 - Humans and Animals

(crosslisted) ARKEO 6230  
Spring. 4 credits.

Co-meets with ANTHR 3230 /ARKEO 3230 .

N. Russell.

Human-animal relationships are often seen in utilitarian, especially nutritional terms. This is especially true of the analysis of animal remains from archaeological sites. It is clear, however, that animals and meat have significance far beyond their economic value. This course focuses on these non-dietary roles of animals in human societies, past and present. We will explore a broad range of issues to gain a fuller view of human relations to animals. Domestication involves not only the technical process of controlling animal movements and breeding but more crucially requires a fundamental shift in the human perception of animals and their relationship to them. Are pets domestic animals in the same sense as animals that are eaten, or does their owners’ relationship with them more closely resemble that of hunters with their prey? Do wild animals mean the same thing to hunter-gatherers and farmers who hunt? We will also consider the importance of animals as wealth, as objects of sacrifice, as totems (metaphors for humans), and as symbols in art. Meat has undeniable dietary value, but the social aspect of consumption is also important. Meat can be used in the context of such behaviors as feasting and meat sharing to create, cement, and manipulate social relationships. In this seminar, we will examine these issues primarily (but not exclusively) in the context of the ethnography and archaeology of the Old World with which the instructor is most familiar, but students are encouraged to offer examples from their own areas of expertise. This course is open to students of archaeology, cultural anthropology, and other disciplines with an interest in human-animal relations.

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